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Let’s call traditional hierarchal leadership vertical leadership. Most early leadership opportunities will not likely involved vertical leadership. It is about leadership in reference to an individual who is in a formal position of power such as being the hierarchical head of a group, department, or business unit and as such is more applicable to adults.

Vertical leadership often requires standing alone. It requires a leader who can and will stand up and be counted when the times comes. That leaders cannot shirk personal responsibility. Organizations of people find such leaders can be counted on when times are tough. These are often willing to be the only supporter for an idea or position. And another adult type of characteristic is that vertical leaders are comfortable working alone on a tough assignment, and even energized by tough challenges. Children are still building this capacity.

Vertical leadership needs people who enjoy leading, those who can take an unpopular stands if necessary (for example, implementing a pay for performance system according to who did well rather than just giving the same percentage of bonus to all to avoid conflict). This type of leadership may need to encourage direct and tough arguments about different perspectives, and be able to stop the debate and move on when necessary. This type of leadership is looked to for direction in a crisis, and helps the group face adversity head on.

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KW Lanham


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