Investing time and energy in helping others’ develop can seem like a huge undertaking, and it is.

Many years ago, I worked as a tutor at local YMCA. One afternoon, one of my students began sharing her story with me. Due to a crisis in her family, she needed a temporary home. Her mother had contacted a local church to look for a family who would be willing to care for her.

Immediately, I began to wonder if my husband and I could do it. A few weeks later, on a cold November evening, “Mary” came to live with us. Too young to be her parents, but too old to be her pals, my husband and I began to discover what our roles might be in her life. For the next 9 months, we shared our lives with her: laughing, crying, car-pooling, homework-helping.

One of my favorite moments from that year happened during late spring. During a thunderstorm, torrents of rain poured from the suddenly dark grey sky. We had been gardening, digging square shaped beds for flowers, and we rushed to our front porch to avoid the rain. We yelled inside for Mary to come out, and we all sat together on the porch, feeling the warm breeze and watching the lightening in the distance. We sang together — something loud, undoubtedly.

It was an intense time, those nine months that Mary shared our home, life-changing for all of us.

But developing others doesn’t have to be an all-in, 24 hours a day, invite-someone-to-live with you sort of proposition.

Leaders can develop others on-the-fly or for-a-moment. Developing others can happen up-close but it can also happen from a distance.

If you want to develop others, don’t be overwhelmed by the myth that making a difference will require as much as you can give. Instead, keep these simple ideas in mind.

  • Developing others begins with valuing them and believing that they have the potential to grow and learn.
  • Developing others can be as simple as sharing who you are and what you know
  • Developing others can happen in whatever time you have to give, from minutes to hours each week.

Tell me something! What keeps you from developing others? How have you made developing others a habit and priority?

This post originally appeared at Mountain State University LeaderTalk and is reposted here with permission. Two years ago, on April 7, 2oo9, I got an email with a link to my first post at the LeaderTalk blog. So, today represents two years of blogging for me. (Hooray!) For most of that time, I blogged at LeaderTalk. More recently, I have been blogging here and at the Bud to Boss Community blog.