• Nick Petrie

The 7 Stages of Vertical Development



You are not static. You evolve….. or at least have the potential to. Developmental researchers who studied leaders over time found that there were seven stages through which leaders can develop. Each new stage is increasingly complex and unlocks important new capabilities and perspectives that were not previously available.

The stages build upon each other. The fancy term is that they transcend and include. A simpler way to think about it is like the rings on a tree that expand out and include the previous rings.


Developmental researchers who studied leaders over time found that there were seven stages through which leaders can develop.


  1. Opportunist – Deeply concerned with own needs. Tries to win any way possible.

  2. Conformer – Focuses on conforming with the rules and norms of the organization or peers.

  3. Expert – Motivated to gain mastery and expertise. Values logic and respects other experts.

  4. Achiever – Driven by goals, achievement, and meeting the standards they have set.

  5. Self-questioning – Inspired by meaning & purpose. Challenges the status quo to finds new ways.

  6. Strategist – Generates organizational and personal transformations. Sees the system they are in.

  7. Synergist – Integrates wisdom with a deep sense of global conscience. May be happier outside of organizational boundaries than in.


Learn more about vertical development here.


To speak to Nick about bringing vertical leadership development into your organization send a LinkedIn message or email nick@nicholaspetrie.com.

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