Leading Up: A Case of Minority Influence of a Powerful Majority

Abstract: Vertical leadership development represents an approach to developing organizational leadership capacity that is well-documented in the scientific literature but rarely practiced by the organizations who stand to benefit most from it.  Vertical development practitioners, therefore, face the extra challenge of influencing their organizations to value an unknown and unconventional solution.  Social psychology contains a powerful set of tools and methods that can help.  When applied properly by the vertical development practitioner, it is possible for this minority position to influence a more powerful majority, namely, executives that approve and fund organizational leadership development programs.  This paper is a case study that explores just that: how social psychology principles were applied to close the gap between what science knows and what a large retail corporation does as it relates to leadership development.