Think about this important distinction: Managers manage things; leaders develop people.

You’ve probably heard it before and it may seem like a cliché. But it’s frequently quoted because it rings true—if we recognize that our real gains and successes as leaders come from helping others reach their potential.

Developing people is the  single most important  job of any leader. I’m absolutely certain of this. This subject hits me right in the heart, because it’s where I get my greatest “buzz” and take my greatest satisfaction. My own success has come out of my passion for seeing people grow to be the best they can be. I love seeing them reach and exceed their potential—as leaders, sales representatives, professionals in other roles, yes, but also as confident, fulfilled people, whom you have really connected with and have helped to achieve their dreams. That fantastic buzz comes from seeing people develop their skills, attitudes, and self-esteem beyond what even they thought possible.

When thinking about developing people, it’s helpful to remember the acronym KASH:

Knowledge: The committed employee  will want to be continually learning.  Facilitate this desire  by working closely with your employees  on their own personal development plans (to find out more – see page 22 of my book The People Pill

Attitude:  By creating  a positive culture  focused  on development, attitude will improve (see Prescription 2).

Skills: Work on a skills improvement with every employee on a monthly basis  with the goal of improving by at least 10  percent.

Habits:  Encourage  all your leaders  to set a good example.  Good habits  will thrive in your organization  if an excellent  example  is set from the top.

At the root of my philosophy is a very simple principle. It’s much more beneficial and cost-effective to develop people—and make a strong effort to rehabilitate them when they underachieve—than to have a “revolving door” on your team. When  a team member fails and must be replaced, the costs are tremendous. Develop and improve the KASH of your people and watch your business reap the cash. Avoiding those costs by committing to development does require huge effort, however.

Most important is a passionate commitment to:

■    an intensive, disciplined hiring process  that  enables a solid evaluation  of attitude and soft skills, as well as hard skills and experience;

■    a method  for developing  all the skills our people  need  to succeed;

■    a positive environment where coaching  and growth are truly valued; and

■    an authentic, connected way of leading  by providing frequent, honest  feedback and investing  in rehabilitation when needed.

Your processes for finding the right people need to be thorough and consistent. This is an incredibly important part of creating a true “people development” culture of success. It provides the base for knowing that your efforts with your people are justified, because you have every reason to believe they are capable of delivering what you expect: excellent performance.

In his book Inspire! What Great Leaders Do (2004), leadership thinker and pioneer Lance Secretan succinctly states the importance of employee development.

“Unless I am vigilant, I will become a prisoner of process instead of an enjoyer of experience. How much of our time is spent on the means rather than the ends—the rules and policies, the structures (strategic plans, budgets, proposals, compensation programs, agendas, etc.), and the rituals (meetings, voice mail, email, performance appraisals, agendas, and politics)?”

Thinking about this question can help us refocus on our most important  activity: developing our people in ways that promote success.

Want to read more – Chapter 1 of my book is available here for free

By Ken Wright

(+61) 414 157 657

Australian Mobile: 0414 157 657