Leadership development and professional development are not new concepts, yet their evolvement has been less than progressive. Many organizations focus on the horizontal development of leaders by investing in soft skills and technical skills training with a focus on broadening tools and competencies used. Horizontal development is a key part of leadership development and organizational success.
Organizations must continue to invest in horizontal development to succeed. However, it is not the only key. Organizations must advance their approaches to leadership growth by expanding their focus to include vertical development.
Vertical development focuses on the way and how a leader thinks.
When approaching and implementing vertical development for leaders, the goal is for leaders to have a better ability to think in ways more complex and strategic, and to view the world in different ways.
The difference between horizontal development and vertical development has been described as, “if horizontal development is about transferring information to the leader, vertical development is about transformation of the leader.”
Vertical development for leadership is not as simple as sending a leader to a few formal learning programs. Developing leaders vertically is an all-encompassing approach that should be comprised of formal learning, experience-based learning, coaching, reflection on behaviors, personality and leadership assessments, 360-degree feedback assessment, and more.
Implementing vertical development at an organization requires full commitment from the leaders going through the process.
The concept may seem unorthodox at times compared to the traditional, horizontal development path, but if the goal is to obtain the ability to think differently, leaders must learn differently.