Vertical Development: How Grown-ups Grow Up
The Developmental
What Does it Mean to Be a Developmental Leader?

What Does it Mean to Be a Developmental Leader?

With Mike Vierow

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This has been a very important and emotional conversation for me. The topic itself, being a developmental leader, is at the core of my own work and research. With every new answer I uncover, a hundred more questions come up so this subject is likely to keep me busy for the rest of my professional life. On a personal level, I am very grateful I was gifted with people like Mike Vierow in my life, who have supported my own development, encouraged my crazy dreams and have demonstrated for me what it actually feels like to be in a nurturing learning space and surrounded by people who are embodied developmental catalysts.

We talk a lot about what impactful leadership means and I believe we don’t hear enough true stories about the lived beauty and messiness of being that leader for others and developing yourself in the process. As you will hear, it’s not all joyful, it’s definitely not easy, there’s a lot of fear, risk-taking and failure involved. But it’s also about love, integrity and staying anchored in positive intent, even at the hardest of times.

I hope Mike’s story as a leader and my own story of being at the receiving end of his leadership style will invite all of you who listen to reflect on who the developmental leaders in your own lives might have been and what exactly did they do to nurture your growth? And most of all, I hope it invites you to consider who are the people you are being a developmental leader for? Who are you impacting through the way you show up every day? Who are you going to believe in next, who are you going to lift up, coach, encourage, let fail and learn and be there with no judgement when they get lost, trusting they’ll find their way again?

Finding some interesting ideas here? Feel free to share this podcast with others who might use the reflection.


About Mike Vierow

Mike has had experience in leading complex adaptive transformations and large-scale capability building in various industries. He grew up in Brisbane, Australia and began his career as an officer in the Royal Navy after graduating from the world’s oldest leadership school, the Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, UK. Following his military service, he worked in program management roles in technology and banking before joining McKinsey & Company as a transformation expert.

Over eight years at McKinsey, Mike worked at the intersection of strategy and transformation in unlocking the full potential of people and organisations. Beyond transformation, Mike founded McKinsey's senior leadership development programs that served Australian & New Zealand rising leaders and was responsible globally for the Firm’s research on teaming and psychological safety. Mike now works in the aviation industry.

Resources and people mentioned in this episode

Ron Heifetz’s work on Adaptive (versus Technical) Leadership

Robert Kegan’s work on adult development

Tom Harkin’s work at Tomorrow Architects & Tomorrow Man

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Vertical Development: How Grown-ups Grow Up
The Developmental
A podcast about the messy, beautiful ways grown-ups grow up. Leaders, learning experts and developmental researchers come together to explore turning science into the day-to-day practice of adult development in teams, homes, organisations, and life.
Dr Alis Anagnostakis is an adult development researcher, group learning facilitator and founder of the Vertical Development Institute. Her highest hope as a researcher-practitioner is to help support the growth of conscious, mature and future-fit leaders and to bring the tools of vertical development into day-to-day to day life.