Article: Vertical Leadership Development: A Road Less Traveled


Vertical Leadership Development: A Road Less Traveled

With leadership models going through a transition, there is a growing need for vertical leadership forces to come into play
Vertical Leadership Development: A Road Less Traveled

Modifying, building and accelerating capacity of people invariably require deep examination of not only your own self but also the environment


Going by the change in model of leadership programmes, today, factors such as technology, pervasive information availability, low information shifting of balance of power to the customer are all serving to demand increasing adroitness and accuracy of decision making. In our experience over the last 15 years of engaging with Leadership teams, there are four basic principles that come into play when we talk about deep development of Leadership Capacity:

• Real world connect

• Journey, not an event

• Interdependent Learning

• Changing the tire on a running car

The idea was to create a sustainable development initiative to verify, build and accelerate the true Leadership Capacities of hand-picked High Potential Leaders on the verge of their next Leadership curve at a MNC FMCG Company.

Here is how the initiative was designed and implemented:

Real world connect: Applying learning in the real world is vital to its sustainable adoption. At the FMCG Company, we helped design the Developmental Program around a high impact business problem. We built around the key elements listed below using them as tools that would help deliver the business objective.

• Analytical thinking using Interdependent Systems thinking.

• Appreciative enquiry using the tool of Meta-Questions

• Collaboration in the context of empathy and shared leadership

• Impactful Conversations

• Building Learnability

Journey not an event: Modifying, building and accelerating capacity of people invariably require deep examination of not only your own self but also the environment and the stakeholders. Understanding of some of these patterns, more often than not, leads to internal restructuring of belief systems and value ranking mechanisms that can push up performance.

Interdependent Learning: The world has gone from independent thinking, working and leadership to a model of interdependence in all three. Exploiting opportunities for learning from each other are vital parts of the design which also encourages each individual to relate to his individual capacity and use that to meet the overall group objective.

Changing the tires on a running car: Talent Development is akin to changing the tires of a running car. This essentially means that the design and execution of capacity development has to take place without hindrances to the achievement of normal KRAs and deliverables. When time is added to this design, the period between capacity development and its full expression comes to be known as a gestation lag. This is a period of trial and error, frustration and failures and learning to be perseverant despite odds. The trick to handle this lies in building reality into design. We tackled this by creating necessary solutions which were:

• Sponsorship at the highest level

• Creating a pull and pressure to perform the program

• Creating platforms at the highest levels to show-case outcomes and capacity development

However, this is not always enough. The real differentiator lies in creating Sufficient Conditions which helps journey-farers to transit from the tyranny of the Paradigm of OR (daily/monthly/quarterly fire OR Capacity Development) to the Paradigm of AND (daily/monthly/quarterly fire AND Capacity Development).

Bringing It All Together

One of the keys to make this approach work is to bring it all together into a unified design. And this is what prompted us to create the Triple Helix Design. The four principles delineated above are woven into the three strands of Self, Group and Shared Leaderships and then implemented in a simple, absorbable manner. The Company has implemented this design successfully for the last four years now and has renewed its commitment to this initiative for the next three years.

(With inputs from Chitra Chaturvedi, Associate Partner, Vyaktitva and Smita Bhandari Sahay - Associate Partner Vyaktitva)




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Topics: Leadership, Leadership Development

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