Vertical Development Coaching

If you’re already familiar with coaching, you may be wondering what’s different about coaching from a vertical lens.

In essence, this is coaching that’s tailored to the vertical stage of development of the individual client. So, whilst working on content, your current issues and problems, these challenges are simultaneously used as learning opportunities for you to think differently, and come at life differently.

The coach seeks to understand your perspective-taking, expand your worldview, and support deeper personal transformation. The parallel focus on content, and your evolving way of being, is the double-task of vertical development coaching.

An excellent way of continuing your vertical growth and development. If you would like to explore this…



The core focus of vertical development coaching

  1. Help you understand your current developmental stage and consolidate there.
  2. Help you identify your inner driving forces for growth and development.
  3. Help you understand where you might be heading and support your transitions between developmental stages.
  4. Help you accelerate your development by focusing on stage-specific coaching issues.
  5. Help you become more rounded by coaching your less developed lines of development.
  6. Help facilitate your journey of personal integration and maturity.

The larger purpose

The larger purpose goes beyond the remit of most coaching which tends to fall into two main categories: supporting people to survive more successfully, and/or be the best you can be, but at your current developmental stage. Both of these are worthwhile but not optimal agendas for depth-coaching.


Vertical development coaching is about growing bigger leaders, growing bigger people, growing into the size you want to be, and need to be – especially important when you know your container is now too small. It’s about you evolving as a person, rather than acquiring new tools, techniques and models to cope better, or make marginal gains.

Typical outcomes of vertical development coaching

The outcomes include some or all of these:

  1. Heightened awareness and expanded consciousness. Awareness is the cornerstone of the developmental process – a key focus and outcome of all personal growth work. Heightened awareness increases your understanding of yourself and others. It expands what you can see, what you have choice about and what you can act on, or choose not to. Given the centrality of awareness, it’s essential to work with a coach who demonstrates a deeper level of self-awareness and a core competence in how to facilitate heightened awareness and consciousness-raising in their coaching clients.
  2. Sensemaking and perspective. Being able to see more, and see differently, is one very important part of the story. Letting in other people’s perspectives, and potentially being influenced and changed by them is equally important. This is one of the ways your lenses and filters change, and when that happens, the world literally starts to look like a different place. You hear more and see more, the dots become patterns and the meaning you make of life’s content becomes more complex and sophisticated.
  3. Greater spaciousness in yourself and for others. This often shows up as a greater openness, more generosity of heart and an expanded ability to ‘hold’ other people and situations when needs be. And to be able to do this without it draining your energy or resulting in resentment.
  4. New capacities. Important new capacities develop during the journey of vertical development. Depending on your current developmental stage, these include inquiry, emotional intelligence, relational know-how, influencing skills, dealing with complexity, visioning, and leading organisational transformational change.
    A clearer life vision and sense of purpose. At different developmental stages, it’s not uncommon for people’s sense of purpose to change. As a consequence, new questions arise, sometimes uncomfortable questions, which may not go away. Finding the people in your life to have the conversations you need about these questions is a challenge for many people and a key reason why life purpose so often shows up in the coaching conversation.
  5. Development across all lines of development. It’s relatively unusual to find even-roundedness across all lines of development – physical, cognitive, emotional, behavioural, moral, ego and spiritual. The way our lives unfold, and the requirements our family and work roles place on us, preference some lines over others. As a consequence, we grow some to a high level whilst others remain less developed. Understanding the consequences of this can become an important focus in vertical development coaching.
  6. A lighter rucksack. Everyone carries one: the question is more about the size and the weight of it. Freedom from being captured by your unfinished business, your shadow side, your unconscious projections onto others; your fears and anxieties; this freedom can be life-changing and vertical development coaching, depending on the skill-sets and depth-psychology background of the coach, can provide the holding space to open the rucksack and lighten the load.
  7. An evolving personal identity and a growing wisdom and maturity. Typically, as people grow, we begin to let go of the need to protect an image of ourselves; and our tendencies to over-control, try to fix everything or be right all the time. We become more interested in paying better attention to others,helping them grow, learning from their wisdom and living our own unfolding purpose. If you are looking for an overarching phrase that captures this work, you could call it the journey towards authenticity, wisdom and maturity, or alternatively, the journey of emotional, psychological and spiritual growth. It’s the inner journey – the one that Richard Rohr (2012) reminds us, is ‘well-kept secret,’ one that ‘too few people are aware of or tell us about it’. This journey, the inner journey, is the agenda of vertical development coaching.

The coaching process

Vertical development coaching combines emergent dialogue, common to all good coaching conversations, with the use of selected structured processes.

Route-mapping, stage assessment profiles, verbal 360-feedback, lifeline sharing, and the Immunity to Change mapping process all provide context and add texture whilst at the same time facilitating powerful developmental insights.

All of these are explained and discussed at an exploratory meeting.

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