by Conrado Morlan
Not everyone is born a leader. Some must be groomed. This is where the vertical development comes in. In my previous post, I wrote about how it can lead to a better understanding of challenges, more innovative thinking, improved emotional intelligence, and increased ability to resolve conflicts constructively in the VUCA world.
As humans, we experience stages of development: infancy, childhood, adolescence, and adulthood. Just as we progress through those stages as humans, we make similar progress moving through varying stages as project leaders.
David Rooke and William R. Torbert developed a model that outlines seven styles of leadership. Although it was introduced in 2005, I find it still relevant in today’s VUCA times:
When you started out as a project manager, you most likely were in the Diplomat or Expert groups.
Becoming a project manager jumpstarted your vertical development with an unprecedented experience. That should had been complemented with meeting new peers with different perspectives and consolidating your experiences and knowledge to start acquiring a new POV.
The natural path to follow next is to become an Achiever, turning yourself into an action- and goal-oriented individual. Evolving to Strategist or Alchemist requires you to explore disciplines that will create projects, teams, networks, and alliances on the basis of collaborative inquiry.
So go ahead and step out of your comfort zone: Look for a stretch assignment, start exchanging your perspectives with other people within your organization, and consolidate that knowledge. This will help your development—and prepare you to face the VUCA challenges that many individuals and organizations are already facing.
How are you using vertical development? Share in the comments.
by Conrado Morlan
The term VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) world has been around for a while. But 2020 will be remembered as the year that forced every organization to deal with the VUCA world. And the most successful ones will be those that find ways to improve the capability of their leaders by acquiring new ways of thinking.
Yet even before COVID, PwC’s annual CEO survey found a majority of executives reporting they didn’t have the talent needed to grow their organizations and respond to increasing complexities.
Today’s VUCA world demands vertical development. What exactly does that mean? The acquisition of skills, certifications, and experience is essentially learning or horizontal development. Vertical development helps the individual change to become more sophisticated, mature, and capable.
Put simply: Horizontal development transforms what you know; vertical development transforms how you think.
Typically, vertical development involves the following:
Vertical development isn’t exclusive to leaders at the top of the organizational hierarchy. It’s for anybody in the organization, including project professionals.
If project managers and/or organizational leaders respond to the VUCA world simply through learning a few more skills, it’s not going to produce any significant benefit. They must develop their capabilities, adapt, and expand their ability to respond to the challenges. Vertical development involves a transformation of their consciousness.
To understand the difference between horizontal and vertical development, think of a cup of water. Individuals developing horizontally are pouring water into their cups. Individuals developing vertically need a bigger cup.
As project managers grow into their leadership roles, it becomes less about their mastery of frameworks, methodologies, tools, and techniques, and more about their container. The level of consciousness to navigate the complexity of the VUCA world requires a bigger cup.
One of the greatest benefits of vertical development is how it fosters increased mental complexity, innovation, emotional intelligence, and the ability to resolve conflicts constructively. This translates to an improved ability to interpret situations and make effective decisions—two essential skills needed to tackle problems in the VUCA world.
How are you and your team using vertical development to deal with today’s VUCA world?