Today’s environment is often described as Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous (VUCA). Yet our leadership is not prepared. A recent DDI study found that “less than two-thirds of leaders are confident they can meet the challenge” of a VUCA world. Other research reported in Harvard Business Review has suggested that only 15 percent of leaders have “the consistent capacity to innovate and to successfully transform their organizations.”

We can no longer sustain leadership that is rigid, tightly focused on efficiency and goals, benefiting narrow constituencies. The stakes are too high.

Yet the methods that we often use to develop leaders are outmoded. The nature of most learning is still horizontal. That is, we expand what people know. We load them with more information and grow their skills and competencies. Horizontal learning is important, but it doesn’t truly allow growth. When people just expand what they know, their mindsets and worldviews still prevail. That is, the way they see things doesn’t shift.

The nature of today’s VUCA world calls for vertical learning. That is, supporting leaders in growing, evolving and developing more complex and sophisticated ways of thinking. In other words, creating conditions so that leaders shift how they know what they know — and begin to see things in entirely new ways. Vertical learning is crucial for innovation, for operating in a global world, for engaging with multiple, diverse groups of stakeholders, for growth.

I began my journey into vertical learning in 1996, over 20 years ago….

I offer three services:

  • Leadership coaching — with both individuals and teams
  • Leadership assessment — for current and prospective leaders
  • Leadership development programs — where I partner with trusted colleagues in the Americas, Europe and Asia.

Clients cross industries — high-tech, banking, energy and power, manufacturing, consumer goods, government, non-profit and NGOs.

Work with leaders to expand their current repertoire (“single loop” learning). Support them in seeing and shifting assumptions and beliefs  (“double loop” learning). And … (“triple loop” learning).

Before we work together, I like to understand your current situation and what you want to have happen. What is working well? What do you most want to shift? I listen for patterns, and what may not easily be seen. We work together to estimate a project plan and budget that may include coaching, assessment, the design and delivery of programs, interviews with key stakeholders and tools such as 360 feedback. Together, we establish key goals, milestones, outcomes and fees.


In sum, these leaders:

  • Know how to navigate complex change and build networks of trust across a multitude of diverse stakeholders.
  • Create more than react.
  • Create conditions for people to thrive in fast-moving environments.
  • Take intelligent risks and continuously learn.
  • Tolerate uncertainty and ambiguity.
  • Can lead both physically and virtually.
  • Embody empathy — and are firm in dealing with realities.
  • Authentically engage people across cultures and generations.
  • Are willing to relinquish being ‘heroes’ and engage the collective.
  • Are both clear about direction and adaptive as the environment, terrain and conditions change again and again.

Leaders’ growth and maturity shows up in

  • self- and other-awareness,
  • clarity of purpose,
  • authenticity,
  • creativity,
  • emotional intelligence,
  • desire to learn and grow,
  • capacity to adapt to change,
  • quality of our relationships and
  • capacity to track patterns and systems.