As I do speaking and training for businesses, leadership comes up a lot in the discussion. Leadership is changing as far as paradigms, many, many ways, but I want to share one with you today. The old paradigm was certainly, “Let’s lead a team. Tell them what to do. They follow and everything works well in the world.” Well, that doesn’t work as we know.

The new paradigm is something called vertical development. It’s something that I teach and that I train is that how can you lead others if you can’t even lead yourself. It becomes more of a personal development type of technique for leadership than looking at the team building concept. If we can now create better leaders that can lead themselves, then it’s going to be easier for them to work in a team and be able to lead others.

The first thing is how are you leading yourself. What I mean by that, this is the other part of the shift, is that we’re looking more at soft skills than hard skills. What I mean by that in the business world, hard skills would be your sales techniques, your presentation styles, your knowledge of your industry. Those would be the hard skills, your education experience, but really, we know as leaders that, that only has about that much to do with it.

Vertical development is about developing the soft skills. Those are the things like emotional intelligence for instance, or being able to be more resilient when things are tough, or being more focused on the job and being more engaged in that. Being able to manage stress better. Being able to communicate better. Those would be soft skills that need to be developed on an individual basis, because you’re really only strong as your weakest link as the saying goes. We want to make sure that each link now is solid and those soft skills are going to help us.

Leadership vertical development is being able to grow the person in a vertical way. They’re building on these different soft skills. They’re more resilient, more focused, so then they can show up at their jobs and in a much more productive, efficient, effective way, which is basically their performance.

Then, when you now have a bunch of individuals that can be more focused, be more resilient, be more emotionally intelligent, then of course you have a stronger team. Now, you can have more of a buy-in to the team’s mission and being able to now work together because you have all the soft skills that have been developed already.

When you look at leadership, let’s look at the individual first then the team second, not the other way around. The other shift that I want you to look at is that old paradigms of leadership had to do with just changing people’s behaviors. For instance, if the team is not selling enough, just tell them to make more phone calls and just change their behaviors.

That makes sense on paper, right? Behaviors equal your results. If we’re not getting the results, then we have to change the behaviors. That’s the old style though. Have you ever asked why these people are behaving how they are anyways? Why aren’t they making the phone calls? Why aren’t they showing up to those presentations with being able to convey the information you want them? We have to go deeper into their behaviors.

Vertical development has a lot more to do with what is the thinking behind the behavior. What are people focusing on? What’s their emotional state? Because that led to the behavior by the way. It’s not just, “Tell somebody to change.” It’s what are you focusing on. If we can get everybody to focus on the same mission, same intension, then behaviors will follow.

That’s the shift that I want you to look at is as you lead yourself, what are the behaviors, but what led to the behaviors, what were you thinking about. In the business world as we have managing and supervising and having big teams, we have to be clear on how people are focusing on their job. What you focus on will expand into your behaviors, which lead to your results.

New leadership model is to now train focus. Making sure everybody is on the same page there, which will lead to the behaviors you’re seeking. When we look at vertical development, again, train the individual first and train focus before you try to change behaviors, and now, you’re going to be leading because you’re going to be performing for success.

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