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A Great Resource for Developing Leaders



When I was in my 20’s, doing leadership development in New Zealand, I used to feel like I was at the bottom of the world. I believed that it was all happening ‘out there’ across the oceans. One day I took a leadership training accreditation by a visiting American consultant. He spent half the training talking about a mythical place for leadership development called the Center for Creative Leadership (C.C.L.). “It is the best on the planet.” he told us. “It has the best research, the smartest practitioners and the finest campuses. It is the mecca of our field.” It sounded amazing, but a long way from my world. 10 years later I did my Masters in the US and fell in love with the country. The people were so friendly, the opportunities vast and I had a sense that this is where you come to ‘make it’. My problem was that at the end of my studies, I had no visa, no job and no real network. On an intuition, I made a small but life changing decision. I made a list of all the best companies in America and the academics and gurus I would love to meet. Then I wrote to them and told them that I was doing a Harvard research project on the Future of Leadership Development and I would like to interview them. To my surprise, everyone I asked said yes (another thing I liked about America – people say ‘yes’ a lot!) The interviews were amazing, and I learned a ton about what all the best companies were doing and what they were thinking of doing next (you can read the results here). As each of my interviews wound down, people would invariably stop talking and ask, “So what are you going to do after you graduate.” I’d reply, “Well, I’d love to stay here and work in the U.S., but if I can’t find a job then I’ll go back to New Zealand.” Short silence…… “You should speak to our Head of Talent. Let me introduce you to Jami.” The two interviews that excited me the most were with John McGuire and Chuck Palus from the Center for Creative Leadership (yup, that place). I met them face to face at a café in Boston. They were both friendly and intellectually intimidating. They invited me to C.C.L.’s Colorado campus. I was blown away by the beauty of the campus, the skill of the people who worked there and the vastness of the resources. They had a team of chefs, a nutritionist and an exercise physiologist! I immediately loved C.C.L. and they liked my accent. I became a faculty member. Over the next 7 years I learned how to really do leadership development. C.C.L. doesn’t mess around. I was definitely in over my head, but people like John, Chuck and other faculty mentored me and showed me how to bring leadership development into organizations with impact. John and Chuck had decades of experience and were generous in passing it on to a young Kiwi who was hungry, raw and possibly dangerous. I once asked John why they were so generous with their knowledge. He looked at me, smiled and replied, ‘Each one, teach one.” Now, the good news for you. A few months ago, John and Chuck launched a website to share what they have learned about creating leadership cultures (they see the collective as key). They have both recently retired and want to pass on their knowledge to the next generation coming through. The website doesn’t have a team of chefs or a nutritionist, but if you're hungry to improve, you'll find plenty to feast on. Enjoy the learning and if you like what you see, be like John and Chuck, and pass it on - www.verticalleadershipculture.com


 

I help organizations develop leaders who can navigate complexity, stay resilient and lead through networks. To connect email nick@nicholaspetrie.com.

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