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What I learned in the last 12 months

What an 18 months it has been. Two twin boys to add to two young boys, a new city (Austin – awesome) and a couple of hurricanes (well that’s the twins again). Now let me tell you about my work and what I learned!

About a year ago I became dissatisfied with the sort of leadership development I was seeing done. It seemed too auto-pilot, basic and not having enough impact for leaders. It bothered me and I wanted to do something different. My initial thought was that I should write about a new approach to develop leaders. But that felt too theoretical.

So instead I began four practical research projects to explore the Future of Leadership Development. I saw them like 4 seeds that I would plant in the soil. I expected that some of them would die, but one might shoot up like a big tree. All year I watered them, tended to them, watched over them………. but none of them died. Instead they all kept growing and I got really busy: interviewing companies, co – designing innovations and testing solutions to see results.

What did I discover that I can share with you? Quite a lot. Over the next few months I’ll share through blogs and videos the key lessons and methods that I learned that you can use for yourself. Here are the 4 projects and what I learned:

1. Leadership Development in Silicon Valley

I really wanted to know what people at the leading edge of leadership development were doing. My guess was that at least some of them were in Silicon Valley. So I reached out to practitioners in: Google, Linkedin, Airbnb, Facebook and others and asked if I could interview them about their best practice methods and approaches. They all said “Yes. IF you share with us what you learn”. So, I’ve shared with them, now I’ll share with you. In the next blog posts I’ll share some of the ‘7 Best Practices from Silicon Valley to Accelerate Leader Development’. What do they know that you don’t?

2. What I Learned from Analyzing 3,000 Changes

All my clients tell me that one of their biggest challenges is leading change. When my research team and I looked at the change literature we found that the only models were generic solutions – “It doesn’t matter if you are Google or a Government department, your cultures are all the same so just follow these 7 change steps.” That seemed absurd to me. My clients are so different from each other, surely the way to lead change in each organization is different. Having now looked at over 3,000 changes in multiple organizations and industries we can tell you that the way to lead change is not generic. It is organization specific. What works at Facebook would not work at Boeing. Obvious right? So why are all the change models being taught to leaders generic? I’ll show you how you can find the change equation for any organization and train your leaders how to lead change in a way that fits your culture. I feel really excited about this one.

3. Vertical Leadership Development

I believe that leadership development in the future will focus less on horizontal development (skills, knowledge, and competencies) and more on Vertical development (more advanced mindsets). It feels like this is an idea whose time has come. Every week I get more inquiries from companies about how to do vertical development. In the past 18 months I’ve been working with clients to create vertical development solutions tailored to their needs. I’ve found that there are 3 main ways to do this at scale: – Vertical leadership training (a program) – Accelerated Continuous Development (a process) – Executive team cascade (a culture change)

I’ll share stories on how each of those works and create some videos on how you can do this in your own organization or with clients.

4. How to scale LD and increase behavior change

One of the things that bugged me most about how I was doing leadership development was how poorly it scaled and spread. Even if the leaders loved the experience, it felt very elitist – what about everyone else back at work? An equal challenge was how to ensure that things learned from a program converted to behavior change back in the workplace. Quite a few people have told me, “Well those are the holy grails of leadership development. If you solved those things you’d be rich!” Well let’s see about that. I’ll show you how through a mix of new tech plus a process called Each One Teach One we are getting close to the grail. And I’ll create some videos and resources to show you how you can do the same…. and maybe get rich!!

OK – that’s it. You’re still reading. You really are hungry for new learning! Me too. Enough of this old stuff! Stick around, new stuff coming your way! Nick



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