Congratulations! You’ve worked hard to be a leader in your company. But don’t think you can sit back and relax from now on because great leaders understand that they must always be developing themselves and their employees.

Leaders lead others, but sometimes they don’t realize that the best leaders never stop improving themselves; they are passionate about learning and teaching, and their passion spreads to those who work around them.

It has been said that leaders are discovered, but really they are developed. Success is an ongoing process of improvement and adjustments.

So how do you self-develop your leadership skills?

Leading others begins with yourself and having self-awareness.  Knowing your skills, abilities, values and failings will help you to help others. And, don’t think it’s the responsibility of human resources or your boss to help you reach your highest potential. You must own and drive the process of your development.

The resources to develop yourself as a leader are more available than ever, so you don’t have an excuse. Better technology–from blogs and Youtube videos to affordable online classes—makes it easier for anyone to improve their business skills.

Also, an executive coach is another way to develop your leadership. A coach can help you see yourself and your abilities (and failings) in new ways. Coaches challenge your assumptions and biases and explore options for the future. As a coach, I’ve helped many self-aware leaders learn new things about themselves and focus on areas of behavior that if developed will have a significant impact on their performance and success. Many companies use both external and internal coaches to develop their leadership.

If you want to improve, you need to create a development plan (or get someone to help you make a plan), share it with your manager to get her support, and incorporate it into your daily routine. Some other actions you can take to develop as a leader include:

  • examine yourself by keeping journals and asking for feedback from others;
  • look to other leaders as role models and/or mentors;
  • decide on standards and goals you want to reach;
  • practice new behaviors and seek out feedback on your progress; and
  • talk with someone else about your progress.

How to develop the skills of those you lead

If you want the opportunity to rise in your organization, you must develop those around you. Employers are much more likely to promote you if they are confident there is a replacement for you. Also providing development can improve employee engagement and retention. Because, if people are happy and feel like they are improving themselves, they will be less likely to leave.

The people you lead will look to you as a role model. This means setting a good example and providing them with the right learning environment. Creating the right environment means creating a personalized approach for each person you lead.

If you’re looking for ways to better develop others here are some steps that I use with my clients that have proved to be beneficial:

  1. Establish and communicate a standard of talent excellence.
  2. Review talent annually using a 360 survey to get a wide range of insight.
  3. Engage each direct report in a joint process of creating a personal development plan.
  4. Monitor the development process.
  5. Develop a coaching mentality that encourages employees to grow and learn.

For your organization to be successful, your ability to teach others is highly important:

“We have looked at winning companies — those that consistently outperform competitors and reward shareholders — and have found that they’ve moved beyond learning organizations to become teaching organizations…That’s because teaching organizations are more agile, come up with better strategies, and are able to implement them more effectively,” says Noel Tichy in The Leadership Engine.

Last time, I wrote about why talent management is so important for leaders today. Read my post now, to learn more about talent management.

Start thinking now: What steps will you take to self-direct your leadership development? And, what steps will you take develop the talent of those you lead?

If you have questions, or if you’re looking for a business coach to help you lead your own development and the development of others, Executive Velocity consultants can help you. Contact us at at
Photo Credit: MDGovpics