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Small business skills: the difference between horizontal and vertical personal development

You've read business books, been to seminars, attended training courses and followed the gurus on LinkedIn. But, if you're honest, has any of this made you feel like you know what you're doing? Has it made a difference to how you're running your business or leading your team day-to-day?


Leading in a small business environment can be challenging. The ever-changing landscape demands constant adaptation, and we have to wear so many hats! How can you ensure you're continuously developing yourself in a way that will translate into meaningful change for your business, your team and you? Understanding the concepts of vertical and horizontal development might help.


Understanding horizontal vs vertical Learning

Horizontal learning, the more traditional approach, focuses on acquiring knowledge, skills, and abilities to expand your existing expertise. It's akin to adding more water to a glass, continuously increasing your reservoir of information. When problems are identified, the answer is to find new or better solutions to add to the glass. Most education systems and training programmes are based on horizontal learning, and it's no surprise that most people understand growth from this mindset. It goes without saying that horizontal development is necessary; business managers need to understand their profit and loss statement or good hiring practices - but is it enough?


Vertical learning is 'inside out' learning. It is about self-reflection, raising your awareness and personal insight. It is about a process of deep examination and often leads to changes in perspectives; we see things in a new way. Vertical learning is not about fitting more pieces in the puzzle; it's about discovering there's a whole new picture to look at. It is about finding new ways of approaching problems, new ways of developing relationships with people, and new ways to be creative by better understanding yourself and the people around you.


Embracing the challenge

Vertical learning, however, isn't without its challenges. It requires you to let go of old habits, beliefs, and comfort zones. The fear of loss and the unknown often go hand in hand with vertical development. It can be a daunting journey, but it's also where the greatest opportunities for growth lie. Stepping outside your comfort zone and embracing the discomfort is essential to the process.


The role of executive coaching in vertical development

This is where executive coaching comes in. An executive coach acts as a guide, supporting you through your vertical learning journey. They provide a safe and confidential space for self-reflection, challenge your limiting beliefs, and offer objective feedback. Executive coaches are trained to ask powerful questions that prompt deep introspection, enabling you to gain new perspectives and insights. They help you identify blind spots, uncover hidden potential, and challenge you to stretch beyond your perceived limitations. With their guidance, you can break through barriers and achieve transformational growth.


When might I want to explore vertical learning with a coach?

There are some common drivers for people wanting to explore vertical learning with a coach, including:

  1. Wanting to understand ourselves better.

  2. Wishing to connect with our emotions and express them more freely.

  3. Feeling like we've outgrown our current level.

  4. Needing to unlock something within ourselves or feel more authentic.

  5. Desiring to tap into our full potential.

  6. Longing to discover our purpose and find meaning in what we do.

  7. Wishing to tune in and understand other people on a deeper level.

  8. Wanting to improve our ability to connect and engage with others.

Vertical learning and executive coaching are powerful tools for small business owners and senior leaders. Vertical learning enables you to reflect, raise awareness, and gain new insights that lead to a shift in perspective. However, the journey can be challenging, which is where an executive coach becomes invaluable. They provide the support, guidance, and accountability needed to navigate the discomfort and unlock your full potential.


Are you ready to embrace vertical learning and experience the power of executive coaching? You can book an initial chat with me today using the link below.



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