The problem with leadership development is that most leaders know what they need to do to improve — the problem is they can’t do it.

“Leaders don’t need to learn more; they need to grow more,” says CCL’s Nick Petrie.

Through a series of white papers, Petrie has been exploring future leadership trends. A big one is the rise of vertical development — the antidote to leaders being stuck and unable to change.

There are two types of leadership development: horizontal and vertical, Petrie explains.

Horizontal development refers to the adding of more knowledge, skills and competencies. Vertical development is advancement in a person’s thinking capability. It increases our ability to think in more complex, systemic, strategic and interdependent ways. It expands our capacity to cope with overwhelming and complex situations and environments.

Traditionally, leadership programs have focused mainly on horizontal development, but the real opportunity lies in looking at competencies through the horizontal and vertical lenses at the same time, says Petrie.

What does this mean for learning and training in your organization? How can you get better results from your development efforts? Petrie offers four guidelines to help leaders do more of what matters most:

  • Focus more on development, less on content.
  • Make the development and the work inseparable.
  • Create strong developmental networks at work.
  • Make leadership development a process, not an event.

For a closer look at vertical learning, its value and how to implement it, read ,Vertical Leadership Development, Part 1: Developing Leaders for a Complex World.

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