Have you ever wondered what sets apart great leaders from good leaders (or worse)?

What we are learning is that the difference between great leaders and no-so-great leaders is how vertically developed they are. Or, stated differently, how cognitively and emotionally sophisticated they are.

Many people do not yet know the concepts of “vertical development” and “cognitive and emotional sophistication.” And, they do not yet understand why cognitive and emotional sophistication is so vital for leadership effectiveness.

So, I want to bring this to life for you comparing the past CEO of Microsoft (Steve Ballmer) with the current CEO of Microsoft (Satya Nadella).

Vertical Development Basics

Adult development researchers have found that there are three different levels of cognitive and emotional sophistication that adults can operate from. I call them Mind 1.0, Mind 2.0, and Mind 3.0.

Research has found that this is how all adults and executives break down by vertical development level:

Vertical Development Example 1

Mind 1.0 is when we are internally programmed to focus on our safety, comfort, and belonging. You can find more information here.

Mind 2.0 is when we are internally programmed to focus on standing out, advancing, winning, and being recognized. You can find more information here.

Mind 3.0 is when we are internally programmed to focus on contributing, adding value, and lifting others. You can find more information here.

Steve Ballmer and Satya Nadella

Given that little information, watch these two video clips and try to ascertain what mind level each one primarily operates from:



Can you feel the difference?

Steve Ballmer seemed internally programmed to stand out. He wasn’t very purpose focused. He was all about competition. And, he cared about results more than culture.

Satya Nadella seems internally programmed to life and contribute. He is more balanced and centered. He is very purpose-focused. He is all about collaboration. And, he cares more about culture than results.

The effect of Nadella’s Mind 3.0 leadership has been incredible. Look at Microsoft’s stock price during Ballmer’s tenure (2000-2014) compared to during Nadella’s tenure (since 2014).

Microsoft Stock Prices

That is the power of vertical development and cognitive and emotional sophistication.

More about Vertical Development

If you want to learn more about vertical development, download my Vertical Development White Paper.