Vertical development is about the ability to think and act in more complex ways. It’s about how you think. It’s about maturity, and growing “up” and increasing one’s “depth.”
Two excellent white papers on this topic by CCL’s Nick Petrie describe why vertical development is essential for effective leadership: Future Trends in Leadership Development, and, Vertical Leadership Development. The Transformations™ tool embodies this model in a practical, user-friendly way. A further tutorial on vertical development is posted here.
Triggers of vertical development include:
- Intense stretch experiences
- New ways of thinking
- Strong developmental networks
More vertical development is needed to address more complex challenges. Seven or more successive stages (or “action logics”) of vertical development are found among adults, according to Bill Torbert and other constructive-developmental researchers (most notably Robert Kegan and Susanne Cook-Greuter). Each includes and then transcends the earlier stages.
Our views of vertical developmental have been greatly influenced by Susanne Cook-Greuter, who has been a key research and business partner with Bill Torbert and who is the originator of much of the theory and practices. A deep and thorough explanation of developmental stages by Susanne is posted here: Nine Levels Of Increasing Embrace In Ego Development: A Full-Spectrum Theory Of Vertical Growth And Meaning Making.