► The Myth of Vertical Leadership

Traditional thinking paints leadership as a ladder to be climbed. But is that really the right way to think about it? In this episode, I explore the myth of vertical leadership — and discuss what really does work.

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Victor Pisano► The Myth of Vertical Leadership


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  • Charlie Hale - October 22, 2018 reply

    Wow, have you hit a home run with this topic! Throughout my career, I knew several individuals who were “forced” to move up the corporate ladder when they would have been far happier and ultimately of greater value to their organization if they had just been left alone to “do their thing.” Too frequently, the “forced” corporate ladder promotion has negative ripple effects on family and co-workers in addition to the promoted employee; and too often, these potential negative effects are totally ignored.

    Victor Pisano - October 22, 2018 reply

    I am passionate about this one Charlie, in fact, it may be my first book if the publishing company allows. I, like you, have seen too many people forced to “move up” because they didn’t want to disappoint, only to fail because that was not where their passion was. We are so focused on tomorrow, that we forget about the present. All of these consultants and their 360 surveys asking us where we want to be in one, three or five years – but there is no option in the answer to say “right where I am!”. The only way we teach this new generation about patience is to not push the corporate ladder on them, but rather invest the time to find where their skills best align for a win-win.

    Thank you for your comment Charlie, I appreciate it!

  • Glyn Harrison - November 14, 2018 reply

    I’ve just come across ‘vertical leadership development’ through a Colleague who went on a course with Courage & Spark (https://courageandspark.com/leadership/development/vertical/).

    Do you think this kind of personal growth workshop that focuses on the individual and growing their capacity is better suited to learning where we fit in a business? As opposed to ‘horizontal leadership development’ that seems to push upon us more and more skills until there’s no way the individual could possibly learn any more without losing some of what they have learnt before through lack of active practice?

    Victor Pisano - November 16, 2018 reply

    Thank you for sending in your question, I sincerely appreciate it! Here is my take on it, too many people tend to think of vertical leadership as a means to an end. It is a constant grind to progress. As a result, we develop a lack of patience when things don’t occur on our timeline.

    In addition to that, some people are incredible employees in the role they play and have an undeniable passion for what they do. Traditional leadership sees this and wants to encourage them to advance. For those with those aspirations, they have put themselves in the perfect position as a result of their efforts.

    My blog/podcast is really centered around those that don’t want to continue the pursuit of “climbing the ladder” because they have a passion for their career. It’s also for those who are aspiring leaders just entering the workforce who may bring with them feelings of entitlement and impatience. Some say success is a marathon, not a sprint. I believe that success is a marathon of sprints. It’s all based on experience. Experience is equivalent to time. Don’t rush the process because of the need to move “up.” Success is small steps forward.

    I hope this helped better explain my position?

    Have a great day!

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