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The Leadership Skills Revolution

The world is different, so we must start making sense of it differently.

In the last few decades, many important ideas have emerged in the way we think about leadership. Two of them seem to be especially relevant for us at DSIL:

1. That our human development lasts well beyond our early 20’s, YES! Even experienced leaders have much to learn.

2. That leadership produces amazing results if looked at as a shared process between individuals, instead of as the role of an individual. It is the relationship (the space) between two people that matters more than the two people.

Some late approaches include the Action Inquiry, Adaptive Leadership, the DAC Model, Integral Leadership and Theory U coming from MIT. (McGonagill & Doerffer, 2010, Petrie, 2014, Palus, Horth, Harrison, 2016). All of these lenses offer unique views to think about what leadership might mean. The Vertical Leadership Development theories grabbed traction in the 90’s and the Center for Creative Leadership simplified the ever-evolving model to make it more manageable for corporations to understand while looking to develop their executive leaders in richer ways. Now, DSIL is evolving the model even further to increase EQ and help established leaders continue to get good at the skills of the future by grappling with them in different ways.

What is Vertical Leadership Development?

In this model, two types of pathways are described in the development of a leadership; horizontal development and vertical development. Horizontal development means to build the capacity, to learn a wide breadth of different tools and skills. Vertical Development offers an opportunity to gain capability and depth of how to practice these in changing circumstances. Both forms of development believe that we learn most effectively through practice (by doing). Vertical Development goes a bit farther to expand our understanding, helping us to think and ultimately act in more complex, strategic and interdependent ways (Petrie, 2014).

So, we must get practicing beyond weekend long workshops! We have designed our course purposefully and designed high-intensity environments that mirror the environments we live in today and push leaders out of their comfort zones. Here, they work through the parts where they specifically get stuck alongside an experienced coach and in relationships with a peer-support network that lasts well beyond the course.

At the DSIL Course, we ensure everything we do is helping leaders understand themselves more.

Becoming a modern leader means becoming a conscious leader. This is no easy task and requires us to ask why we operate in certain ways, and how that affects the environments and people we live with in our daily lives at work and home. Welcome to the world of EQ.

The design of the DSIL Innovation Leadership Course constructs the immersion element to pull in large amounts of diversity and challenging situations- putting language, cultural, value, and gender differences at the center (to name a few). Here, leaders can live in a learning lab and get honest about where they get stuck in managing/guiding the interdependence and complexity of everything happening around them, and also see where their innate and developed strengths lie. Among the 150 participants from 60+ countries that have come to the DSIL Innovation Leadership Course, more than 90% have stated they have had one or more pivotal mindset shifts that remained more than 2 years after the course. The mindset shift is teaching them to do things differently when they get home for the purpose of moving teams and companies forward, faster. Building innovation requires leaders who are ready to do things differently.

Our team also understood that in order to have the capability to build innovation you have to have leaders who are open to guiding processes where many diverse perspectives are at the table so the possibility for new ideas can emerge. The same old experts sitting around and thinking in the same old silos isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Finally, we knew we needed to find and cultivate leaders who were ready to let go of perfectionism and the traditional processes of control and trade them in for trust. Trust that the people around them have wisdom, tools, and skills to share from many areas of their life. After our first course application went out in 2014 we found these leaders were widespread around the world. To be precise, 400 applications came pouring in in only two months. Collaboration and co-creation are hard, but there is no shortage of individuals dedicated to learning it and making it work wherever they are.

Today, the DSIL Innovation Leadership Course continues to run its single signature course for 15 established leaders once a year. As the network grows so do the stories of alumni success, expansion of co-creation and iteration of tools for specific contexts and goals. We continue to bring leaders from other countries to Southeast Asia to nudge them out of their comfort zones and the results have been important and transcend both culture and sector.

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