The Future of Leadership

Vertical learning
PostedSeptember 09, 2015, in  Step 8: sustainable society
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It started in 1980 with one supermarket in organic food in Austin, Texas. Now there are more than 340 locations worldwide with over 87,000 employees. According to Forbes, Whole Foods is one of ‘America’s Best Employers’. Their secret? Conscious Capitalism.  

More economic value

Some research results: 58% of new business leaders fail within 18 months (source: Harvard Business School). 89% of newly appointed business leaders admits to not having the necessary knowledge and/or skills on taking office (source: Corporate Executive Board). Only 30% of CEOs is convinced he has sufficient qualities to help the business grow (source: PWC, Trends in Human Capital).

Fortunately, there is also good news. Literally, in fact, because 'good' leaders create three times more economic value than bad leaders. Was signed: Zenger & Folkman, consultants in business leadership, following research carried out under 30,000 business leaders. But how do you become a good leader? The answer: Conscious Capitalism and that starts with ‘vertical learning’. 


Stronger and more effective

Vertical learning is about the development of intuition, empathy and emotional intelligence. In this way, students increase their mental, emotional and relationship skills, in order to become stronger and more effective leaders. The result: better performance in strategic and systemic thinking, change management, relationship management (stakeholders) and conflict management. Vertical learning was developed at the universities of Harvard, Stanford and Oxford. Now, it is also being applied by top sportspersons and elite sections of the American army.  

‘Inherently good’

Vertical learning consists of 8 levels. 85% of ‘conventional leaders’ is in level 1 through 4. Less than 1% is a ‘high conscious leader’ in level 8. Not totally coincidentally, John McKay, co-CEO of Whole Foods Market, belongs to that level. Because of his leadership, McKay was nominated ‘Businessperson of the Year’ by Fortune. His motto: ‘Business is inherently good because it creates value, it is ethical because it is based on voluntary exchange, it is noble because it can elevate our existence, and it is heroic because it lifts people out of poverty and creates prosperity.’

‘If your life’s work can be accomplished in your lifetime, you’re not thinking big enough.’– Wes Jackson, MacArthur Fellow

Higher goal

Research shows that leaders who master vertical learning are better able to control change processes. And that is essential to the achievement of Conscious Capitalism, what has been the thread running through McKay's career.  As McKay himself says, he is driven by a long cherished desire ‘to make the world a better place’. Conscious Capitalism must not be confused with Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). According to McKay, CSR is often a mandatory program, particularly interesting from the point of view of image.  Conscious Capitalism on the other hand, has a higher goal: to create added value for the stakeholders. Not as a vague ambition but as the basis of every decision.

Healthy basis

We live in a complex world that is constantly changing. That puts a lot of pressure on business leaders, both professionally and personally. Vertical learning is a chance to develop leadership skills to the max. A healthy basis for sustainable enterprise in the form of Conscious Capitalism. But it is in fact a lot more than that: vertical learning is good for everyone.


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PostedSeptember 09, 2015, in Step 8: sustainable society
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