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The Rise and Rise of Vertical Development

Vertical leadership development has been around for a while, but in the last few years we have witnessed a wave of big companies bringing it into their organizations. We wanted to get a feel for where things were heading so we reached out to HR Execs at 26 Fortune 500 companies across a range of industries (I use the royal ‘we’ here. Carl Sanders-Edwards led this, and I said, ‘Good work Carl!’). ‘We’ asked them what they were thinking about and doing with Vertical Development (if anything). Here is what they shared:

84% say vertical development is more important than it was 5 years ago?

92% think Vertical Development will increase in importance in the next 5 years

92% will commit budget to vertical development this year (and 41% said vertical development would be 60% or more of their LD budget)

So, what did you make of the above? Surprising? You already knew this? Big opportunity?

One thing I would say, is hold the data lightly. It is smallish sample size and the group who responded were fairly sophisticated practitioners from leading-edge companies. The overall market numbers could be lower.

Even so, there does seem to be a pattern. Large organizations are increasingly using vertical development to grow their leaders. It is no longer just the Innovators and Early Adopters who are using Vertical Development. It is moving into the Early Majority.

In the diffusion of new ideas, this is called ‘crossing the chasm’. It is really hard to get a product or idea to cross the chasm, but once it does it spreads very fast.

Wayne Gretzky, regarded as the best Ice Hockey player of all time, once said,

“I skate to where the puck is going, not where it has been.”

Gretzky had what is known as ‘On ice vision’. He would read the play and take off to where the puck was heading. But just as importantly he spent years building his toolkit and skills such that when the puck arrived, he was ready to deliver. Seems like a pretty smart approach.

The puck is on the move. How about you?

Here are two opportunities to build a toolkit with peers who are skating towards vertical development.

1) Webinar: Aurecon and Leadership Disrupted – June 15th, 11am AEST, 1pm NZT

Join a discussion with Aurecon, an Australian engineering company, on how they are using vertical development to help groups of leaders to handle a world of complexity.

2) Try out the Vertical Mindset Indicator (VMI)

Try out the A.I. driven VMI. Learn about your own vertical development and implications for your work, leadership, and life:

  • Take the VMI

  • Get your stage report

  • Do a digital coaching debrief

  • Join a group coaching debrief with me and other practitioners

Discounted Price - $94 (Usually $249 - 63% discount). I got this as cheap as I could.

Signup – Click this Link

Discount code: NICKWEB50


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


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