Four Secrets of Staff and Leadership Development

Sixth in a series of Seven Essential Executive Skills. For the other articles in the series, click this link: Seven Essential Executive Skills.

Staff DevelopmentHow do you measure leadership effectiveness?

There are several simple ways to do this. One of the best ways is to look at the people nearest to the leader.

Are they growing?

Are they growing in confidence? In ability? In mindset? In capacity?

Are they more able to lead themselves? Are they more able to grow others?

The most effective executives grow the people around them personally and professionally.

This is natural for them. A habit. A practice.

It comes from a personal sense of delight in seeing others grow and succeed.

Lessor leaders feel a sense of threat when others grow. So, they will always limit it.

Great leaders love seeing the growth of others.

Because of this, people do grow. Because they grow – the organization grows. It’s a natural progression.

Leaders Who Grow Others Exhibit These Traits:

Humility: I’ll define humility two different ways.  1) Focusing your efforts for the benefit of others.  2) Using internal measures of success or comparison.

Humility is a tricky concept. I’ve written on it before.

For this purpose, I’ll suggest two things:

  • Leaders who are passionate about the success of the whole tend to be less focused on themselves.
  • Leaders who define their success by the value they provide others and how they grew whatever and whoever was around them. Not by comparing themselves to others.

Self-Management: Leaders who manage their own time, priorities and compulsions are able to grow others.

A leader who cannot manage his or her time, priorities or compulsions will always be led by the urgencies defined by someone else.

They will always find it difficult to stay focused long enough to nurture and build someone else.

Ask More Than Tell: Many leaders like to wax eloquent about the wisdom they’ve gathered from the lofty heights of their success.

Actually, I like to do this. It’s an easy trap to fall into.

When you are an expert – people ask you to do this. They pay you to do it.

This can sound impressive but rarely translates into actual growth of others around them.

However, someone who can ask great questions, challenge the thinking of others, and spur deeper reflection – does create growth.

This requires the ability to not be the answer or the resource. But to be able to trust that the mentee can discover the answer if asked the right questions.

It requires a capacity to understand what is needed so growth can be obtained. Some of this is related to skill development. But far more of it is related to mindset development.

Abundance Mentality: Leaders who grow others have a mentality of abundance.

They aren’t trying to get as much of the pie as they can. They are interested in baking more pies. Or starting pie bakeries. Or franchising pie bakeries.

As a result, they feel no need to withhold. Because growth comes by helping others grow in their skills and abilities.

How to Grow Others: Focus on These Four Areas for Development

There are four basic areas a leader who grows others needs to focus on:

  1. Grow the Person: Depending on where you are starting from this can mean different things.

But largely it boils down to helping people clarify priorities and to make faster and better decisions through those priorities.

When someone knows how to make decisions, they naturally become more confident.

Confidence – when supported by good decisions and the ability to follow through will take people a long way.

Too many people don’t have sufficient confidence. Or they have undeserved confidence. Great leaders grow people who’ve earned the confidence they exhibit.

  1. Give Them Experience: It was in college where I learned that the internships and practicums were worth more than the degree.

The actual experiences and the relationships built during them brought more value for me professionally. Give your people new experiences.

Allow them to face new challenges. Expose them to opportunities, relationships and the behind- the-scenes machinations of how things are done.

Too many people come into leadership only seeing what is presented from the “stage.” Allow your people to be involved in the full picture. They’ll grow.

  1. Develop Their Skills: Invest in the skill development of others. As an employer, I was a sucker for sending people to training.

I believed then (and still do), that the more your people can do and the more confident they are in doing it – the better for everyone.

Identify relevant skills for where they are in their journey and for where they are headed. Ensure that they are equipped and experienced in the use of those skills so they can thrive.

  1. Provide Contextual Knowledge: As a consultant, I nearly always work in situations where I start out with very little context.

As someone who has worked cross-culturally, context can be difficult to discern.

It is very difficult to do effective work if you aren’t able to understand context quickly. It is very easy to look foolish when you get it wrong.

At least that is what my experience taught me.

I’ve learned how to unearth and infer context. But I’ve also learned how to draw that information out of others.

But most people don’t do that well. Provide others with context. Just because the lights are on for you doesn’t mean they are on for everyone else.

Help them understand how to navigate a new social, political or economic terrain.

Personal Development Translates Into Developing Others

If you focus on the personal growth areas I described earlier, you’ll find that the growth of others will be a natural consequence.

It’ll just start to happen. So, focus on your own personal development.

Find mentors.

Surround yourself with others who are and do what you want to be and do.

Hire a coach.

Read books, listen to podcasts, or otherwise immerse yourself in content relevant to your growth.

Growing Others Will Make You a Better Leader

Every good coach and consultant I know loves their job, in part, because the better they are at helping others grow – the more they grow themselves.

There is a very direct relationship between the two. It’s a virtuous circle, ever looping upwards.

Helping others grow, helps you grow yourself. As you grow yourself, you are more able to help others grow. What’s Next for You?

  • What is one area where you would like to grow? What is one step you can take to ensure that growth happens?
  • Who is someone that you would like to help grow? What is one step you can take to help that person grow this week?

Take good care,


An Opportunity for A Complimentary, Personal Strategy Session: Would you like to talk to me, one-on-one, about how you could rapidly gain confidence or build your influence as a leader? Or perhaps you’d like to increase your ability to accomplish your priorities, decrease your unwanted workload, boost your profits or do more of what you love?

Curious? Contact me:

During this call I’ll help you identify:

  • The priorities that will matter most for you in 2018
  • What challenges you’ll need to prepare for to meet those priorities.
  • What resources you have at your disposal to help you succeed.
  • What, if anything, I can offer you that will help you ensure your success.

Contact me to learn more: or 907 522-7200.

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