As leader, your role is to develop leadership in others. A coaching approach to development will deliver 20% better business results*. Your mindset matters!

Here are 10 principles for developing leadership in others:

  1. No one is broken There is no wrong or right, good or bad – simply what works.
  2. Look for the positive intention Behaviour that seems unproductive on the surface largely comes from a positive intention. Separating observable behaviours from the intentions that drive them provides insight and greater scope to influence.
  3. What you expect is what you get When we expect a leader to rise to the challenge of a new role, and we support them to do so, they will. Conversely, when we expect someone to fail there is a high likelihood that they will.
  4.  Accept that you won’t have all the answers People are complex and there will always be some behaviours you do not understand. Your role is to support the exploration. Resist offering solutions and filling the silence.
  5. The direct report is responsible Be clear how you can support them and commit to doing that. The rest is up to them.
  6.  Listen and listen some more Listening is critical. Sometimes allowing the person to be heard is all that is needed to begin the development journey.
  7. Use questions consciously A closed question has a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer, and doesn’t involve the brain in a creative search for answers. An open question has the potential to unleash insightful conversations. (See this blog for more.)
  8. Reinforce positive behaviour Notice and encourage small approximations of the behaviour you want.
  9. Get them to decide The decision to act is the first step on any journey. People develop faster when they take responsibility for their own development.
  10. Rome wasn’t built in a day Continually support your direct report as they create the desired change.

Seems like a lot? You will already have a couple of these nailed… Focus on another two for the next fortnight and notice the difference this makes as you develop leadership in others.



Found this useful? This blog is an edited extract from my new book ‘Developing Direct Reports: Taking the guesswork out of leading leaders’ due out on 13 August.

Written for leaders who lead leaders, this book addresses the 12 most common, globally recognised leadership derailers, and will help you to:

  • understand what’s really driving the dysfunctional behaviours you observe
  • become a catalyst for behaviour change that sticks
  • take the guesswork out of developing your direct reports

Together with my co-authors Anneli Blundell and Belinda Cohen, I look forward to sharing more with you over the coming months.


* Research undertaken by Bersin & Associates found that organisations in which senior leaders were frequently coached had 21 per cent higher business results. (Bersin & Associates/Stacia Sherman Garr. November 2011. High-Impact Performance Management: Maximizing Performance Coaching. Retrieved from


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