5 Steps on the Journey to Developing Leaders

Published February 7, 2018

Leaders aren’t meant to be alone.

Leadership is about influencing others toward a common mission together. It requires more than simply working together toward a common goal—a common purpose. Rather, great leaders align people and resources in order to accomplish these goals.

Many leaders mistakenly believe financial resources are the most critical tool required to achieve their vision.

However, a leader’s greatest asset is people.

Their value does not lie in their number or their current capabilities. The value of your people lies in the capacity of their leadership potential. In order to leverage your greatest resource, you must help them grow this leadership capacity from burgeoning potential to high effectiveness.

John Maxwell wrote, Leaders create and inspire new leaders by instilling faith in their leadership ability and helping them develop and hone leadership skills they don’t know they possess.

Who was a leader who took an interest in you and helped inspire you to grow and develop as a leader?

What were some of the things they did to bring out your leadership potential?

Each of us can look at those who influenced and inspired us to grow in our leadership, to identify the ways they invested that most helped us improve and develop. Growing leaders is not achieved by infusing them with a checklist of leadership qualities. Rather, leadership is developed when we provide environments and experiences that cultivate and nurture leadership potential.

When organizations embrace the following propositions, they experience significant impact from their investment in new and emerging leaders:

1) Leadership development is a journey.

It is not a single event. Leaders are not developed in a day, but daily. Growth strategies for emerging leaders are being planned with a longer view and time frame that goes beyond a singular event. The Global Leadership Summit is a catalyst for year-round growth experiences designed to help leaders increase their influence and effectiveness. Some of the year-round growth resource tools we provide include GLSnext, the GLS Podcast and GrowthTracks.

2) Leadership skills can be taught.

Many people are intimidated by leadership, viewing those who lead as, “born leaders.” Giving emerging leaders skills for vision casting, team building, conflict resolution and more can help build leadership confidence and increase the leadership impact in your organization. Identifying and cultivating skill development in new and emerging leaders can help transform your organization into a greater leadership-learning environment.

3) Emerging leaders need a safe place for change.

Providing a safe place that allows leaders the opportunity to test and experiment in leadership roles, offers space for learning and trust-building. It also helps emerging leaders to make the internal and external changes necessary in order to grow their influence.

4) Leadership learning provides both engagement and experience.

Effective learning environments must include information, action and evaluation. Emerging leaders need the benefit of knowledge acquisition, application through action and evaluation through honest, constructive and positive feedback. Both knowing and doing produce greater understanding and impact.

5) Character counts.

Leadership is more than knowing and doing. Rather, it flows out of our being; out of who we are. Leadership-equipping systems must care as much about the heart and integrity of a leader as the actions of a leader. It is out of the leader’s inner life that they influence and interact with employees, make consistent and honorable decisions on behalf of a company or organization and have relational interaction with clients, customers and colleagues.

The key to greater effectiveness and success as a business or organization, as a leader over a small team or as a CEO of a multi-billion-dollar company comes through your investment in the people capital you have been entrusted with.

Increasing the capacity of those you work and journey with will multiply your collective impact and bring greater joy and fulfillment.

Don’t lead alone.

Remember those who invested in you and pass it on.

About the Author(s)
Tom De Vries is the President and CEO of the Global Leadership Network.

Tom De Vries


Global Leadership Network

Tom joined the Global Leadership Network (GLN) in 2017 as President and CEO. He brings a wealth of expertise to the GLN’s year-round leadership development efforts and the leadership of producing The Global Leadership Summit (GLS), the premier leadership event of the year. Prior to joining the GLN, Tom was the General Secretary of the Reformed Church in America (RCA), the oldest continuing Protestant denomination in the United States with over 200,000 members and 100 missionaries serving in 40 countries around the world. Tom has a B.A. in Sociology from Wheaton College, a Master of Divinity from Fuller Seminary, and a Doctor of Ministry in Leadership from Western Seminary. He has provided leadership in both the ministry and nonprofit environments serving as a church planter, large church lead pastor and multisite pastor. He served on the central committee of the World Council of Churches and the governing board of the National Council of Churches. Additionally, Tom served on the Board of Trustees for New Brunswick Theological Seminary and Western Theological Seminary and has also taught as an adjunct professor at Western Theological Seminary. Tom played a key leadership role in the launching of a nonprofit focused on food insufficiency in young children and today Hand2Hand feeds more than 8,000 children each weekend through school-church partnerships. He has been a featured guest on NPR, the Salem Radio Network, Life Today Live, Newsmax TV, Moody Radio, the WOW Factor, and Common Good.