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Learn Vertically

There are two types of leadership development – horizontal and vertical. In horizontal development, an expert transmits knowledge. Vertical development, however, focuses on the developmental stages of leadership and an individual’s capacity. Vertical development must be earned for oneself and allows for the more complex and adaptive thinking needed for an environment of complexity, volatility and unpredictability. In other words, how to thrive in an ever-changing and fast-paced world.

Why focus on developing individual leaders?

There is extensive research on how to best prepare leaders to succeed in increasingly complex business environments. The Center for Creative Leadership published comprehensive research on the changes businesses must move toward to effectively develop current and future leaders and teams. The results of this study clearly show that organizations can no longer simply teach leaders skills. Now, we must help leaders develop “bigger brains” while, simultaneously learning skills such as communication and time management, among others. The research found and supports:

  • Organizations need to stop developing static individual competencies. They are better served to develop meta-competencies such as learning agility, compassion and self-awareness.

  • Managers at higher levels of cognitive development are able to perform more effectively because they can think in more complex ways.

As you consider your own development, in your team and your organization, are you developing and promoting learning that is vertical and building capacity for leaders? It's what's needed in the future, as we live in the whitewater change of the 21st Century.

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