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  • Writer's pictureNick Petrie

How to Intro Vertical Development to Large Groups

At the end of last year, a client asked if we could introduce Vertical Development to their top 200 leaders in under 2 hours. And do it virtually. The answer ‘Of course!’. Our next question was how?

The client wanted it to be fun, engaging, and experiential rather than theoretical.

In preparation, we trained up 25 internal leaders to facilitate a simple breakout exercise. At the conference, I taught the basics of the 7 stages of development in about 15 minutes. Then in 25 breakouts, the facilitators asked leaders to share stories about times in their lives when they used to operate from the different stages of adult development. The 45-minute breakouts went deep, and the leaders were surprisingly open and vulnerable with each other. We heard stories that started with:

  • Diplomat: “When I first joined the company I was all about fitting in and learning the rules. I didn’t want to get in trouble.”

  • Expert: “Early in my career I was obsessed with mastering my craft. I wanted to be able to answer any question my bosses or customers had for me.”

  • Achiever: “This stage was all about delivering results and juggling all the different demands of work and life. Actually, this one feels like the stage I am in right now!”

In the large group, I then taught the leaders about how to keep developing their capacity as a leader and practical applications for working with their teams. After 90 mins we asked them to share what insights they had. Example comments we heard were:

  • “I thought I had finished growing. I can now see I am only halfway.”

  • “I saw the career journey that I have taken. It helps me empathize more with my team who are now on their journey and how I can better help them.”

  • “I can now see what my next stage of growth might look like and some steps I can take to lean into it.”

  • “I am not a finished product; I can still grow. Development is lifelong.”

In two hours, your leaders won’t transform (I don’t think!). But they will gain new awareness, a common language and a motivation to keep growing. And if you’re looking for a foothold to bring vertical development into your organization, this is all that you’ll need to begin the journey.


To speak to Nick about bringing vertical leadership development into your organization send a LinkedIn message or email


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