Some More Ways to Help People Develop (Vertical Development)


The 3 primary conditions of vertical development are

i) heat experiences (complex situations disrupt and disorientate our routine ways of thinking so that making sense of the world is inadequate; start to search for new and better ways)

ii) colliding perspectives (engage with a diverse range of stakeholders to challenge existing mental models and increase the number of perspectives through which to see the world)

iii) elevated sensemaking (integrate and make sense of these different perspectives and experiences)

(more detail see elsewhere in this Knowledge Base)

People will need training to change thinking as well as new skills and competencies. The real world is the best classroom

1. Heat experience

"...the heat creates a positive disequilibrium for the leader, shaking his sense of certainty, and unfreezes his mind long enough to open in two new ways of making sense of the world..."

Nick Petrie, 2015

1.1 Sense of urgency (you have to change to survive, ie no choice; you grow because you have to)

1.2 Confronted by one of the following types of conditions

i) first-time experience, ie never done it before

ii) results matter, ie have to achieve the outcomes

iii) there is a chance of success or failure, ie could go either way

iv) important people are watching, ie your future career depends upon success

v) outside your comfort zone, ie feel uncomfortable

NB usually follow a 3-year cycle, ie

1st year - learning how to handle it;

2nd year - work out how to handle it, with performance and results improving;

3rd year - develop mastery and looking for other challenges.

Heat experiences can be great accelerators of leadership development

1.3 Create a culture of development risk-taking

This can be done by stretched assignments, ie

i) increase the scope, eg increase the number of people reporting to you, etc

ii) turnaround, eg urgently need to transform an under-performing business unit where morale is low

iii) horizontal move, eg change job to an area where you have had no experience in

iv) new initiative, eg live and work in a foreign culture

NB Need to have a growth mindset culture that rewards smart risk-taking in the pursuit of growth.

Encourage people to explain what they have learnt from their greatest failures, not successes.

"...realise that the price of long-term success is learning from short-term failures..."

Nick Petrie, 2015

1.4 Give assignments to the least qualified person

Normally we give assignments to the most qualified person - usually they are over-qualified for the job. This means they will learn the least. A more effective approach is to give the task to a less-qualified person so that they will grow and benefit from the opportunity, ie learn the most

"...This requires the organisation to take a longer-growth mindset rather than a short-term task mindset. Most organisations are too short-sighted to do this..."

Nick Petrie, 2015

You need to seek out challenges that will push you outside your 'zone of comfort' so that you are stretched and can grow. These challenges will help in your development.

1.5 Manufacture heat in the classroom

Most leadership programs do not push their participants outside their 'zones of comfort'. People need to be pushed outside the zone of comfort to develop and grow. For example, conduct a workshop with no prescribed goal, no structure and no authority figure to tell people what to do. Initially chaos ensues as participants try to make sense of the situation. One of the big learnings from this approach is an authority figure does not necessarily mean they are a leader!!!

"...create experiences that produce ambiguity, uncertainty and confusion for leaders - not comfort..."

Nick Petrie, 2015

Trainers must stop teaching and become facilitators.

1.6 Uncover your immunity to change (for more details, see elsewhere in this Knowledge Base)

You need to understand and change what is holding you back, ie what key behaviours and hidden or unconscious beliefs do you need to change? For example, you may feel nervous about delegating as that will mean you lose control and perhaps feel irrelevant and/or insignificant, ie redundant. However, conducting some activities, such as reflection, to test the validity of the belief, behaviours, etc you may, in fact, feel

"...rather than losing control and feeling redundant, I actually felt free to be more strategic, which made me feel more significant..."

Nick Petrie, 2015

NB Can use 360° feedback (more details, see elsewhere in this Knowledge Base) to identify behavioural patterns that most need changing.

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