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4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development

Twenty years ago the accumulation of skills, knowledge and experience (‘horizontal development’) was sufficient for business success. Today, it’s not. 4D Leadership – Competitive Advantage Through Vertical Leadership Development, offers a new approach of ‘vertical development’.

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Bosses behaving like children

Sometimes when I’m observing boards or executive teams and the way they interact, I get flashbacks … to the school playground.

Many people believe that when we reach adulthood we have matured. My experience of boards and executive teams would suggest otherwise. Anyone that has children or has interacted with children knows very well that children pass through very well defined stages of maturation. These stages in babies and children are very obvious and well researched. In contrast very few people realise that there are also a whole series of adult development stages. In fact in most companies I have ever worked with there is no real notion of developing adult maturity.

In a simple, stable world this lack of awareness of the stages of adult maturity isn’t really a problem; you can function pretty well with the maturity level of an average 14 year old. In fact, this lack of adult maturity is exactly what I observe in many boardrooms. People are squabbling, stamping their feet, shouting and putting people down. It’s bullying behaviour and it’s indicative of a lack of maturity. Just because you’ve progressed well up the career ladder and have aged does not mean that you have matured.

The playground antics and boardroom battles you see in many organisations suggests that many companies are stuck in an early stage of adult maturity.

Unfortunately, we no longer live in a simple and stable world. As things become ever more complex, leaders who do not develop their adult maturity will find it increasing more difficult to function, lead or turn a profit. Adult maturity bears no relation to seniority. When very good people leave, it can often be because they are more mature than their bosses and they have simply become bored with the lack of leadership maturity.

In Alan’s book (Coherence: The Secret Science of Brilliant Leadership) you can find out more about the levels of adult emotional maturity that are required to survive and thrive in today’s volatile and complex world. You can also see where you are on the levels of adult maturity.


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Chris Parry

Chris has been a successful entrepreneur, held senior executive roles, and has extensive consulting experience. She has a passion for, and conducted research, focused on women in leadership.

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