Why is Career & Professional Development so Confusing?

If you’re reading this, I’m assuming two things:

  1. You are a professional in a corporate environment
  2. You want to learn and grow or you want to develop your employees

If these are not true, this isn’t for you.

If these are true, let’s begin.

Professional Development can be confusing.

You get feedback from your Manager. You are doing good. You get two or three things to work on. Then you spend the next year working on those.

You sign up for online courses or company courses. You finish the training, you have a few good insights, but you don’t truly level up from a course like that.

That process can take years to make leaps in your career.

The Traditional Approach: Horizontal Development

The traditional way relies on adding another skill. This is Horizontal development.

Dr. Susanne Cook-Greuter explains it this way:

“Most growth in adults is of the horizontal, expansion kind. People learn new skills, new methods, new facts, even new ways of organizing knowledge, but their current stage or mental model of the world remains the same.”

This is the level that corporate training focuses on. You can read books, take LinkedIn Learning courses, and find a lot of online training to add these skills.

The jump to the next level requires Vertical development.

Image courtesy of Dr. Susanne Cook-Greuter’s Ego Development: Nine Levels of Increasing Embrace

The Missing Piece: Vertical Development

Vertical development is evolving in stages.

Every time you jump levels, you transcend and include. Which means that each level contains the previous one, as you don’t forget it. But your view has evolved ‘higher.’

“Each new level is both a new whole logic with its own coherence, and – at the same time – also a part of a larger, more complex meaning system.”

This is Human Transformation.

Vertical development requires a different mental model of how the world works, different language of how you view reality and how you perceive things.

Models to Understand Vertical Development

Researchers have developed various Leadership and Ego Development Models over the years. I go into more detail here: Development Models.

These models include:

  1. Rooke and Torbert: Seven Transformations of Leadership
  2. Dr. Susanne Cook-Greuter: Nine Levels of Ego Development
  3. Richard Barrett: Seven Levels of Leadership (built on top of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs)

These Models act as a Map.

They can give you self-awareness about:

  • Where you are in your journey
  • Where you want to go next

Map + Plan

The approach I like to use is to have a :

  • Map of where you are now
  • Map of where you are going
  • Development Plan to get there

The Roadmap to Transformation: From Confusion to Clarity

The traditional approaches to development aren’t wrong. They are just incomplete and confusing.

The models are there to improve your self-awareness. They can show us where we are now and where we want to go. This allows you to personalize a development plan that is right for you.

However, Career Success isn’t our only goal. We’re also seeking Personal Fulfillment on this journey.

Now let’s discuss how we also ensure Personal Fulfillment as well.

Who Is Matt Goswick?

Executive Coach for Accounting & Finance Professionals

I help you embrace Emotional Intelligence & Inner Peace so you can achieve Career Success & Personal Fulfillment on your own terms

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