Articles on Vertical Leadership & Transformative Coaching

Curated by Antoinette Braks Master Executive Coach


Barrett Brown, The Future of Leadership for Conscious Capitalism, 2015

One of the most diligent and compelling summaries of vertical development in relation to business. "Meet complexity with consciousness."

PwC Report, The Hidden Talent, 2015

in collaboration with Rooke at Harthill Consultants, PwC expose vertical development and offer new statistics over the last two decades in relation to the executive population. They extol the value of Synergists in organisations.

Nick Petrie, Vertical Leadership Development Part II, Centre of Creative Leadership 2015

Petrie extends his introduction to encapsulate some ideas on the who, what and how of vertical development. It's a great initiation although I would add the inclusion of later stage perspectives to facilitate vertical development. 

Nick Petrie, Vertical Leadership Development Part I, Centre of Creative Leadership 2014

He provides a great introduction to the concept of vertical development vs. horizontal development and the expanding capacity of leadership from Conformist to Achievist and onto Synergist.

Rooke & Torbert, 7 Transformations of Leadership, Harvard Business Review 2005

One of the most popular articles on leadership ever published in the Harvard Business Review. Pragmatic examples and statistical distribution of executives operating at different stages of development.

Rooke & Torbert, Organisational Transformation as a Function of the CEOs' Developmental Stage, Organisational Development Journal, 1998

The only longitudinal research study reviewing organisational transformations and business performance in relation to the vertical development of their leaders and executive teams. Evidence of the need for transformative CEOs at Synergist+..


Vincent et al, Promoting Post-Conventional Consciousness in Leaders, The Leadership Quarterly 2015

Vincent undertakes a substantial research study of 335 adults attending Community Leadership Programs in South Australia. She measures their vertical stage development before and after the programs in contrast to a control group.

Terri O''Fallon, Growing Up is Waking Up - Interpenetrating Quadrants, Stages & Structures, 2011

A complex and intricate exploration of the stages in terms of the Tiers and Zones of inner and outer development in the Individual and Collective quadrants. 

McCauley et al, The Use of Constructive-Developmental Theory to Advance the Understanding of Leadership, The Leadership Quarterly 2006

McCauley and her friends look at the stages of development through the eyes of Kegan, Torbert & Kohlberg to better appreciate the demonstration of increasingly effective leadership in relation to vertical development.

Susanne Cook-Greuter, Ego Development: Nine Levels of Increasing Embrace, 2005.

A thorough evidence-based and sophisticated lens to view and understand the individual stages of development through the eyes of one of the most erudite and compassionate researchers in stage leadership development in this era.


Moldoveanu & Narayandas, The Future of Leadership Development, Harvard Business Review 2019

They advise that 50% of senior leaders realise their talent development efforts don’t build critical skills and organisational capabilities. They're right but their answer that development go digital is insufficient, it needs to go vertical as well.

Beer et al, Why Leadership Training Fails and What to Do About It, Harvard Business Review 2016

They advise that corporations are victims of the great training robbery! They suggest organisational redesign to enable the system to change is essential for leaders to change. They also don't appreciate vertical development to Synergist when the two become synonymous.


Antoinette J Braks, Leadership Coaching Leads to Later Stage Development, Integral Review Special Issue Stages Edition, Vol 16.1 2020

Braks presents the drivers and dynamics of vertical development to Synergist following a multiple case study where 80% shifted one stage and 20% shifted two stages after an average of 8 * 90-min Transformative Coaching Sessions.

Reinhard Stelter, Third-Generation Coaching - striving towards value-oriented and collaborative dialogues, 2014.

Stelter takes the lid off developmental coaching taking us to a new generation of transformative coaching that includes mutual insight and meaning-making as foundational to the discovery dialogue in a coaching partnership.

Kaiser & Kaplan, The Deeper Work of Executive Development: Outgrowing Sensitivities, The Academy of Management Learning & Education, 2006

The authors focus on the inner game of leadership and take it to a deeper level of shadow resolution in relation to failure, inadequacy, rejection and dependency. Doesn't go quite as far as spiritual intelligence but it's going in that direction.

Kilburg, When Shadows Fall: Using Psychodynamic Approaches in Executive Coaching, Consulting psychology Journal, 2004

Kilburg explores the significance of resolving shadow as part of the executive coach's repertoire. He provides examples of coaching conversations to illuminate the psychodynamics approach for practitioners.

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“This is a much-needed, research-based book that has already helped me to refine my coaching!”

—Maureen Metcalf, Founder & CEO, Innovative Leadership Institute

"Antoinette Braks shows us how executive coaching can become a transformational dialogue; a holistic path that can humanise our world.”

—Reinhard Stelter, Professor of Coaching Psychology, University of Copenhagen

“It is more vital than ever before that leaders develop the ability to take multiple perspectives, think systemically, consider the long-term effects of decisions and base them on the best of available scientific evidence – this book offers a path to help leaders acquire these later stage characteristics.” 

—Susanne Cook-Greuter, Strategic Advisor & Research Director, Vertical Development Academy

Antoinette’s brilliant work creates an effective, practical and grounded approach to guide coaches and leaders in a pivotal arc in the developmental spectrum to see what is not yet seen and heal underlying hidden dilemmas not yet identified. 

—Terri O'Fallon, Founder & Partner of STAGES International

To be published by McGraw Hill mid-2020

What is Vertical Development?

Aug 17, 2020

How to Step Up as an Executive Coach

Jun 26, 2020

A Caveat on Vertical Assessments

May 07, 2020