There are some common questions I hear from leaders. In fact, they may be some of the most important questions leaders can ask. These questions are the essence of who the leader is and what leaders are to do. One of the more common is something like this: “Ron, how do you develop people you lead?”

Often they are hoping I will consult with their team. I’m always willing to if we can find the time. They will often, however, follow that question by saying they don’t have a lot of money to spend.

Okay, I get that. Really, I do. I should point out that development of your people may be one of the more important investments a leader can make. (In financially hard times, I’ve seen leaders cut the things they need to keep most, such as development and marketing.)

But there are inexpensive – and even free – ways to develop people you lead.

Are there ways to stimulate development of leaders regardless of size of the budget?

I think there are. So, here is some “free” advice.

Here are 4 free ways to develop people you lead:

Be generous with knowledge

It has been said knowledge is power. That’s certainly true when it comes to leadership. It’s been interesting to watch over the years how some of the best leaders have had power simply because they had more information.

Likewise, to help people on our team grow, I know I must share whatever I know. I must communicate fluently. Equally true, I need to ask questions and allow people the freedom to ask me questions. I have to encourage our team to be sharing information with others and continually be seeking input from people outside our organization.

Leaders who stir knowledge with in their organization will see people develop and grow.

Model integrity and good leadership

Character isn’t taught, but it can certainly be modeled. Any leader desiring to develop high character leaders must display the character they wish to develop. I realize my character will greatly determine the quality of leaders we attract. And I can’t develop leaders (with character) without displaying a high character personally.

I know I can impact growth in people on our team if I display a character worth following. The way I live my life impacts the quality of the life of people trying to follow my leadership.

Give ample opportunity to lead

Most aspiring leaders are simply waiting for a break. They are seeking an opportunity; often inwardly screaming, “Give me a chance”.

I know if I want to develop people I must create opportunities for them to experiment by leading other people. And the more opportunities I create the more leaders our team can grow.

Let people develop through good and bad experience 

It is in the tension of being stretched where we learn most. Walking by faith is leading into the unknown – always. And it always teaches us more than we could learn in a “safe place”.

To develop leaders we must give others ample chances to live firsthand in the stress of leadership. I realize one of my roles as a leader is releasing my right to control an outcome to provide people with their own experience as a leader. They need to feel ownership and responsibility for an outcome – even if that outcome is less than they (or we) hoped to achieve. They will develop through the process.

Give those four ways a chance in your leadership and watch the people around you grow.

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Ron Edmondson

Author Ron Edmondson

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