In the Center for Creative Leadership (http://www.ccl.org/leadership/enewsletter/2013/) the concepts of professional development are categorized into two treks, horizontal and vertical.
Horizontal development focuses on new skills, abilities and behaviors. It is technical learning and competency-based. Horizontal development is most useful when a problem is clearly defined and we have known techniques for solving it.
Vertical development, in contrast, refers to the mental and emotional “stages” that people progress through. It’s about advancing your thinking capability. At each higher level, you learn to think in more complex, systemic, strategic and interdependent ways.
Our world and our work are growing increasingly complex. Our environment is too complex for our current stage of development. We’re overwhelmed and stressed and stuck. Going vertical in your development is the only way to break through your current level and gain the ability to think bigger and broader. Look for coaching, action learning and stretch assignments as opportunities to change how you think – not just what you know.
Some simple methods for Going Vertical, involve problem solving at increasingly higher levels. The good news is that these are skills that can be learned, and/or improved upon using some relatively simple techniques. One of my favorite exercises is designed to train individuals to consider problems or issues from more than one perspective. In other writings it’s been referred to as ‘sideways thinking’, but I prefer to call it by its official name, Sudoku.
The standard 9X9 grid requires the individual to look for number placement not less than 333 ways. Yet while loving the Sudoku, the complex exercise is shrouded in the simple task of determining which of the 9 numbers (1-9) belongs in the block. The micro-view and macro-view of the puzzle can be replicated in a real-world scenario. Examining a situation from multiple perspectives enhances the likelihood of the best selection choice being made.
When you can master your reaction to problems by instantly examining other possibilities for resolving the problem, then you have moved vertically and will be increasingly looked to as someone who sees opportunities where others see only obstacles.
I invite you to apply your skill at solving increasingly mor challenging Sudoku puzzles, until you can solve them with speed. Then post and share your successes here. If you find this information useful or valuable, pass it on to those in your network and help them Go Vertical!
About the author
Dr. Eugene Matthews has authored several articles and eBooks regarding leadership, coaching, and mentoring. If you found this information useful, consider subscribing to this blog and having topical and informative articles sent directly to your email!