We develop Vertical programmes that actually develop your leaders!
Three “primary” conditions support Constructed Leadership Development and under each are tools and approaches that practitioners can use to create those conditions.
Warren Buffett tells the story about the first time he and Bill Gates met. They were at a party when Bill Gates, Sr. (father of the younger Gates) asked members of their table, “What was the one thing that most helped you to succeed?” According to Buffett, both he and Gates gave the same answer: “I know how to focus.”
Most leadership development programs aren’t focused. They are a grab bag of different tools, techniques, and methodologies thrown together, which don’t really coalesce around any guiding principles. But if you really want to help leaders develop, you must begin with one simple fact: development is hard. And when things are hard, you can’t afford to waste time and energy doing things that don’t work. Instead, you must know the conditions that really lead to development and focus everything on them.
There are three primary conditions that when combined in different ways, produce different flavours of vertical development. The three primary conditions are:
1. Heat Experiences
The leader faces a complex situation that disrupts and disorients his habitual way of thinking. He discovers that his current way of making sense of the world is inadequate. His mind starts to open and search for new and better ways to make sense of his challenge.
2. Colliding Perspectives
The leader is then exposed to people with different worldviews, opinions, backgrounds, and training. This both challenges her existing mental models (Thinking Styles) and increases the number of perspectives through which she can see the world.
3. Elevated Sensemaking
The leader then uses a process or a coach to help her integrate and make sense of these perspectives and experiences from more elevated stages of development. A larger, more advanced worldview emerges and, with time, stabilises. This is an increase in her Dynamic Intelligence!
Many leadership programmes contain one or two of the primary vertical conditions but not all three. The absence of one or more of the conditions often leads to anemic development for the leaders and significant challenges in making the development stick back in the workplace.
Many well-intentioned leadership development programs fail to deliver results because they hit on only one or two of the primary conditions. Any one of the conditions can provide some value, but it is not until you combine all three that development really takes off.
Support Development, Don’t Force It
There is an important difference between helping a leader grow and trying to force her to. Susanne Cook-Greuter points out that each stage of development is important and worthy. Horizontal growth within a stage is just as important as vertical growth beyond a stage. Your job is not to force development on someone. Your job is to create the right conditions in which someone can grow. Challenge and support, but don’t fore it!
Finally, vertical development should not follow a prescriptive approach since specific tools and methods that work in one organisation (an advertising company) may be rejected at the next (a law firm). Instead, our focus should be on helping the leaders experience the three conditions in roughly equal balance. In addition, none of the tools are ‘vertical tools’ in isolation. They are merely the ingredients you combine to create the vertical conditions for development to occur.
When combined with the very latest research on Constructed Development Theory, you and we are on to a winning combination for Leadership Development!