Like climbing a ladder to get a bigger perspective, vertical leadership development expands your mindset and worldview, so you can handle greater complexity. This increases innovation, creativity and your ability to lead into the future.


If a leader is to flourish instead of fold in these fast-changing, complex times while managing diversity in teams in the globalised work environment then vertical leadership development is the one investment every organisation should make for its leaders.



The focus of vertical learning is mindset transformation. It develops a leader’s ability to think strategically, systematically, collaboratively and contextually. Through vertical learning a leader will lead change while inspiring others and build relationships in the process. Furthermore, vertical development means that a leader increases his or her own ability to reframe problems, resolve conflict and tolerate ambiguity.



Vertical development as a leader is about deliberate practice. Daily practice. These are practices already under your nose, in any day. Recognising and remembering to do these practices, however, pushes you out of your comfort zone till they become a normal part of your way of working and relating. In this way you create new neural pathways in the brain.  This expands and changes the thinking of the leader and makes room for agility in decision making and solving other challenges.


The result is a leader that is more sophisticated, more mature and more capable. The analogy that best correlates with vertical learning is the significant distinction between adding more apps (i.e. skills and competencies) versus upgrading your entire operating system.


vertical leadership development dorrian aiken


“…vertical learning not only upgrades a leader’s operating system, it rewires their hardware and expands their leadership competency and capacity. It literally alters brain functioning and recreates a leader’s worldview.”

Barrett C. Brown, Ph.D. The Future of Leadership for Conscious Capitalism (2014)


5 Reasons to Invest in Vertical Leadership Development


  1. It develops mental complexity and how you interpret situations, which leads to effective decision making.


  1. It improves your emotional intelligence and your ability to resolve conflict constructively. READ MORE.


  1. It cultivates high stake relationships.


  1. It makes it possible to navigate rapidly changing circumstances


  1. It strengthens your ability to drive transformational change

“Vertical development makes you wiser, more able to leverage the diversity you need to solve today’s problems.” –  Dr Alan Watkins


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