My first book, Vertical Development, is a different book falling into multiple categories like biography, management book and personal development. The story covers a decade of my life, from 35 to 45. Over these years, my career took me across the globe from Denmark to Argentina, the UK, back to Argentina, Venezuela, Romania, and finally, back to Denmark. I worked as a General Manager, Finance Director, Group Treasurer, Change Manager, and Finance Manager. I had the opportunity to learn about and from cultures vastly different to the one I grew up in. I share these cultural learnings here as well as cultural sensitivity - a critical element often forgotten and not widely taught as a fundamental life skill.
As I wrote this book, it became increasingly clear to me that my ability to continually reflect, learn from my mistakes, remain curious and take calculated risks has most impacted my personal and professional growth. These are core elements of what I have come to know as ‘vertical development, and it has been accelerated by the rich exposure to coaching and mentoring I have been blessed with throughout my life. It has been so critical in my development that I have made it the title of this book. I hope that my story teaches you something, inspires you, or at least spurs you on to reflect on your own life.
Part 1 looks at the topic of change, which I experienced both personally and professionally. Many people see change as a threat, but change is one of the few inevitable things in life. By understanding the emotions and reactions that are triggered by change in you and others, you can better manage it. I also touch on risks – taking risks and managing change are interdependent.
Part 2 covers culture, especially the differences that exist between what is considered right and wrong behaviour in different countries. I share some of the key elements of cultural understanding and how being mindful of these upfront will help you avoid some of the mistakes I made.
Part 3 focuses on transformation. This covers the transformation – professionally and personally – that you need to go through in order to adapt to and operate effectively in the new and unfamiliar environment you find yourself in. But also, this section of the book looks at the transformational change that an organisation, at times, needs to go through in order to survive in a given business environment and the complexity embedded in orchestrating organisational changes.
Part 4 contains some of my thoughts on leadership, and specifically the importance of leadership agility. Many people hit a ceiling in their leadership ability. Understanding vertical development and its various developmental stages can help you to identify, without judgement, how you are doing and prioritise growth areas. As your appreciation for differences in leadership capabilities and limitations grows, you’ll be able to lead more effectively and intentionally.
Purpose in Life
Finally, in Part 5, I reflect on what I have come to know about my purpose in life, which is based off getting to know my true values. I cover the importance of reflection in order to do this. As you read my book, you’ll see that my personal circumstances required that I ask these questions of myself, but you don’t need to wait until those questions are forced on you to consider why you are doing what you do. For me, it was, once again, time to take a risk and seek the unknown.