Doing The Work of Vertical Development

Ryan Gottfredson

by Ryan Gottfredson

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In this video, The Four Benchmarks to Gauge the Vertical Altitude of Leaders and Executives, I discuss:

  • How I have coached over 200 leaders to help them vertically development, and
  • Roughly 80% of them never “do the work” of vertical development

At a high level, my coaching process involves:

  • Helping leaders understand what vertical development is, why it is important, and the best thing to focus on for vertical development (our mindsets)
  • Engaging in a vertical development exercise designed identify mental blocks and limiting mindsets that are holding them back from leadership effectiveness
  • With clarity on these mental blocks and limiting mindsets, I then invite leaders to create a vertical development plan focused on (1) pushing against their mental blocks, and (2) exercising their positive mindsets

Through this process, nearly all leaders become interested in vertically developing themselves, but for a variety of reasons (self-protection/fear being the most primary), most leaders (roughly 80%) never actually:

  1. Take the initiative to create a vertical development plan
  2. And therefore, they never do the work of vertical development

Is Vertical Development Easy or Difficult?

I often ask leaders, “What do you think: Is vertical development easy or difficult?” Their answer is always, “Difficult.”

I would never say that vertical development is “easy,” but I would say that it is “easier than most people think.”

Let me give you an example of a few different vertical development plans. These are the types of plans I want my coaches to create, but they fail to do so.

Note: Leaders walk away from my coaching calls having clearly identified specific (1) mental blocks and (2) negative mindsets driving those mental blocks. The efforts presented below are directly related to each, respectively.

Vertical Development Plan Example #1

Pushing against Assumptions

  1. In my weekly one-on-one meetings, rather than leading with all of the things that I want to talk about, I will invite them to lead with the things that they want to talk about.
  2. I am going to ask my team members to provide me with feedback on how I can improve as a leader.

Mindset Exercising (Open Mindset)

  • For the first two weeks, I am going to spend 15 minutes each weekday reading from the book, Think Again by Adam Grant.
  • For the next two weeks, every weekday, I will stick to the following schedule:
    • Monday: Ask my team a question related to having an open mindset during our team meeting
    • Tuesday: Read an article
    • Wednesday: Meditate
    • Thursday: Watch a video
    • Friday: Engage in a journaling exercise

Vertical Development Plan Example #2

Pushing against Assumptions

  1. When I need to hold employees accountable to our deadlines, I will take a moment to remind myself that I am not the “enforcer,” I am the “business enabler.”
  2. When employees come to me with a problem or questions, I am going to refrain from answering, and instead ask questions.

Mindset Exercising (all mindsets)

  • All days: Gratitude journaling
  • Even days: Read a book (e.g., Success Mindsets)
  • Odd days: Meditate using the Insight Timer app

Vertical Development Plan Example #3

Pushing against Assumptions

  1. I will practice speaking up in my weekly team meeting
  2. I will take the initiative to move our project into the next phase of development without waiting for my boss’s approval

Mindset Exercising (Promotion Mindset)

  • Three days a week (Saturday, Sunday, Wednesday), I will do yoga
  • Read Can’t Hurt Me by David Goggins every night for 15 minutes
  • Every weekday morning: set my intentions for the day, asking myself: What value do I want to create today?

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Your Vertical Development

If you want to explore receiving coaching to develop your own personal development plan, or if you would like to arrange for your executives or leaders to receive vertical development coaching, let’s connect.

But, if you want to try this on your own, here is a PDF to guide you in the “Mindset Exercising” portion of the Vertical Development Plan Examples. You do not need to engage in coaching to do this, but you will need to take my Personal Mindset Assessment.

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