In fast moving VUCA world, then it is time for a fresh look at leadership development.When attending a conference I like those A-ha moments, when you first hear a new idea and it opens your mind to a new way of thinking. At the Henley Forum I heard the concept of Vertical Leadership Development for the first time.

Horizontal Leadership development is your typical leadership programme, where companies try to cover a broad range of topics. The sort of mini-MBA with an emphasis on their organisation and the behaviours to be successful in their organisation in the past. Often while the new theories are nice the leaders find it challenging to apply back on their busy working day. In contrast vertical leadership development proposes learning at the point when a leader is transitioning from one stage to another. For example moving from being an individual expert to leading a team of people.

For learning to happen it requires experiences that will open the leaders mind to a new way of thinking and behaving. This means exposing the person to adopt a different world view. To do this the development needs to introduce some divergent views, put them under some heat so people question their typical way of behaving and help them make sense of the new ways of behaving. It is about customizing the learning to suit the transition that the person is going through while providing the right resources, support and tools as they need them. This helps leaders adapt quickly to a fast changing world.

With a customized approach tailored to the leaderships learning at just the time they need it, then there is more “bang for the buck”. The new leader is open to learning, and trying new skills and behaviours. Getting it right skills early on in a new job will help the organisation to be much more adaptable and flexible. It about finding the perfect teachable moment in an imperfect world.