Developing Others

Developing Others

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.

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About Becky Robinson

I am the owner of Weaving Influence and the leader of the Weaving Influence team. We help authors and thought leaders grow their online influence. I am also a wife and mom of three daughters, and I enjoy running, reading, writing, a good cup of coffee, and dark chocolate.

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What People Are Saying

  • “Developing others can be as simple as sharing who you are and what you know”

    This is so true. I’ve experienced this every time I participate in the #leadfromwithin twitter chat. There hasn’t been a night where I haven’t learned something and changed my perspective as a result.

    I’ve also experienced it reading your site here.

    Hopefully, as I’ve engaged with others I’ve had an impact in their lives as well.

    The point is we can all help develop others as we learn to live openly, act in love, and move into our worlds with intentional kindness and generosity.

  • If I had to summarize the development of people in one word, it word be the word “encourage”. Encouragement enables us to meet the challenges of the day. Encouragement keeps us focused on what’s important. Encouragement can also challenge us to re-examine or get out of a rut.

    It doesn’t take a lot of time to encourage someone, like you said. One conversation can give someone a whole new perspective on their day, their project, or their world. Mentoring someone in a particular area takes a bit more investment, but maybe only a few months. The only requirement is being available to hear and ask the people we come in contact with what challenges they face.

    Everyday I encourage my children to become the people God created them to be. As a spiritual mentor I help people to develop a spiritual foundation for their lives. In our homeschool co-op I encourage other moms every week to keep up the good work of educating their children. Regularly, I ask God to use me to be a blessing to whoever I am around that day. It’s amazing to see Him at work.


  • Another timely post Becky! I had just finished responding to an email from my new mentee of a couple of days (an engineer in her third year at University).

    I agree 100% with your three points. It starts by valuing them and believing in them (I have seen first hand the difference that can make) and then it is as simple as being prepared to share what you know. It doesn’t take long (10 minutes tonight reading over a resume – because that is all I have).

    I sign up every year for the mentoring program. Why? Because I feel I receive so much more from the experience than the small investment of my time takes. Give and you shall receive!

  • Great Post my friend!
    Your legacy will not be defined merely by the organizations you lead or the products you developed. Your legacy will be reflected in the lives you have influenced and the lives that you have touched and nurtured. They will walk for a time in your shadow of your wisdom, talents and insights but their lives will bear your signature. You have done well my friend. As a leader you have developed others to shape the future.

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