Why Don’t We Develop Ourselves?

When we don’t develop ourselves, we are damaging ourselves. When we don’t develop our teams, we are damaging our teams. Why don’t we develop ourselves and others?

There are many styles of leadership, and different leadership principles that I discuss throughout my website and my other materials. One thing I have learned over the years is, there is not one size fits all. In other words, every individual and team is different.

Every circumstance and situation is different. Just because one principle or style worked with one person, doesn’t mean it is guaranteed to work with the next person. It takes hard work to understand our people, and how we can help them and add value to them.

1. Leadership Styles

I have worked with many leaders who said that they made a success of themselves in a previous leadership role. So, they came to work with us thinking they could behave, lead, and treat us in exactly the same way, and it would be another success.

How they were wrong. They didn’t understand that there was not one size leadership style fits all. They thought their new leadership role with us would be a breeze, when actually it was much, much harder than they thought.


Some of these leaders learned from their mistakes, and did their best to work hard with us, and help us. Others were too stubborn, and in the end were removed from their position because they were making things worse.

Organisations are far too focussed on results, when they should be focussing on their people and their culture. When organisations bring in new leaders, their main objective and priority is to improve the results.

I am not saying we shouldn’t focus on results, but they should not be the priority. The people should be the priority. Protecting the culture and living the company values should be another priority of the leaders.

Having respect for the people should be another priority. Without respect for the people, there is no way of protecting, or keeping the right culture and environment for the people to work and thrive.

Focussing on processes and results will damage the culture, will damage the environment, and most of all damage the relationship with the people.

The leaders who were stubborn were not willing to let go of what they had learned about leadership, unlearn it, and then relearn new leadership principles that would help them in their situation. They were failing in their leadership of us and their other teams, but were not learning from their failings.

2. Mindset

To unlearn, and then relearn something new, that is the mindset of a highly effective leader. You need a strong mindset, and be willing to accept and admit that you don’t know it all. We need to be learning every day. That is why highly effective leaders work on themselves every day.

The mindset of a highly effective leader is to be constantly improving. Their thinking is, if I improve myself, I am making myself more valuable to my team. By being more valuable to my team, I am in a great place to help them become more valuable too.

How valuable to your team are you right now? Do you feel that you are adding value to your people? Are you willing to challenge yourself, and work on yourself every day to become more valuable?

There are two principles I would like you to focus on when working on yourself:

  1. Continuous improvement
  2. Respect for your people

You should focus on continuous improvement 20% of the time, and focus on having respect for your people 80% of the time.

Respect for your people is the most important principle, which is why we focus on it the most. It is the foundation of leadership, and will support every other leadership principle that we study, practice, and improve.

3. Respect For Your People

Highly effective leaders think about respect for the people more often than they think about anything else. They spend 80% of their time thinking about how to respect their people.

When highly effective leaders focus on continuous improvement, they are working on themselves to become more valuable. By becoming more valuable, they will continuously improve on the value they can add to their team.

Continuously improving on their value will in turn make their team more valuable. Adding value to their team, and helping them become more valuable is how to respect their team. When the team feel respected they will improve.

If they feel disrespected, they will not improve. Highly effective leaders spend 20% of their time thinking about continuously improving.

When leaders want to implement new ideas, or bring in a new change, it is imperative that they work hard on influencing their people to buy-in to the new idea or change. What is the best way for them to achieve that? By respecting the people.

If the leader has respect for his/her people, the people will respect them in return, and will buy-in to the new change. If the leader dis-respects his/her people, the people will dis-respect them in return, and definitely won’t buy-in to the new change.

When highly effective leaders want to increase their influence with their team to create buy-in, they must first work on themselves to develop their character, and competency. They focus on developing their character 80% of the time, and they focus on developing their competency 20% of the time.

Developing character is how a highly effective leaders improves how they lead their team, and how much they respect them.

Developing competency is how a highly effective leader improves how they manage the processes and policies they have accepted the responsibility for. Leadership is focussed on people. Management is focussed on processes, policies, and things.

Most organisations provide the training for the people so that they can improve and develop their competency. This is so they can carry out the day-to-day job they were employed to do.

However, they don’t provide the leadership development training so that they can improve and develop their character. This is why you have highly effective managers rather than highly effective leaders.

4. Character Over Competency

The leaders of these organisations focus on competency over character. When focussing on competency development more than character development, they are focussing 80 – 90% of their time on continuous improvement, and 10-20% of their time on character development.

May be even less time on character development. They have it the wrong way around.

The leaders of these organisations don’t even think about developing their own character, never mind the people in their charge. It’s an unfortunate fact, but these organisations are prioritising and focussing on the wrong things. This needs to change.

Low performing leaders will tell their people that they are developing them, but they actually aren’t. They manipulate their people to get what they want by telling them, “This task is part of your development.”


When actually, it is a task that they have done many times before, or has nothing to do with what their team is about. They manipulate their team for very selfish reasons. They do not think about how their team thinks or feels.

To be a highly effective leader, you must increase your influence with your team. To increase your influence you must develop your character, and you must also develop the character of each of your team members, so that they can increase their influence.

You must also help your team to develop their competency so that the processes improve along with the people. To be a highly effective leader, you must become a highly effective leader. Focus 80% on character development, 20% on competency development.

The more character you develop, the more respect you will have for your people. The more respect you have for your people, the more character your people will have. Remember, to grow your people, you must grow yourself.

What is your business about? People, things, or results? Focus on the things, you are not developing your people, and not producing results. Focus on the results, you are not developing the people, and nothing will change. Focus on the people, and the things will become easier, and results will get better.

I welcome hearing how this post has influenced the way you think, the way you lead, or the results you have achieved because of what you’ve learned in it. Please feel free to share your thoughts with me by commenting below.

Check out my other articles by Clicking HERE

All the best,

Tom (LeadGrowInfluence)

8 thoughts on “Why Don’t We Develop Ourselves?

  1. Lots of good points here about why we don’t develop ourselves. What stands out for me is your description of a leader who comes into a new organization and attempts to force their management style down the throats of the staff without learning first what is going on in terms of the pros and cons of the existing culture.

    A willingness to adapt one’s leadership skills to the specific needs and existing culture to maximize the performance of all is essential for any good leader.

    Thanks for these insights into ways to develop ourselves best.

    1. Hi Joseph,

      Thank you for sharing your thoughts, means the world.

      I appreciate how you the point on forcing a management style on a new team stands out for you because what you say is absolutely right. I hope others who read this can relate to this point too and relate to you.

      It is my pleasure to share this article and keep working on yourself every day to help your people do the same.

      All the best,


  2. Hi Tom, this is a well written piece of work.
    I absolutely agree with you that a leader should have respect for every member of their team!
    It’s how a leader approachs and conveys themselves, inhand their team will be more attentive, and open to what their leader has to say showing back respect!

    Furthermore, there is nothing wrong in developing a leaders character, infact it’s as you mention in their interest, then they will get the best performance out of their colleagues!
    It’s also great you offer a Free E-book in this field, and I hope many who get to see your article with benefit from it.
    Thanks for sharing and keep up the good work! 😄

    1. Hi Julia,

      Thank you for sharing your very kind comment.

      There is absolutely nothing wrong in developing a leader’s character. As you say, it is very much within their interest and is far more important than people think.

      Keep working on yourself and developing your own character.

      All the best,


  3. Hi Tom,

    I agree that developing your character is essential to excellent leadership. There is so much more to managing a team than just focusing on the numbers or the output and I think this is one big reason why so many people don’t get the kind of output they really want out of their team! If you are looked at as only as extension of the leader, someone only being used for production, then there is not enough motivation for the team. Getting the best performance out of those that you are leading requires that personal character development and as you mentioned, respect! I wish this kind of training was required everywhere, especially in places where you see a lot of turnover due to the lack of this very thing.

    1. Hi Nikki,

      Thank you for sharing your detailed comment, means the world.

      I couldn’t agree with you more that there is so much more to leading a team than focussing on the numbers and the output. It’s great that you can relate to this article and thank you for sharing your experiences too.

      Keep sharing your experiences with your people and showing them how much you care. Keep developing your character every day and helping your people to do the same.

      All the best,


  4. Hi Tom,

    Great article, and it’s evident that you emphasize the importance of personal and team development in leadership. I couldn’t agree more with your point that there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to leadership. It takes effort to understand and add value to each individual and team.

    In your experience, what’s the most challenging aspect of balancing a focus on results with a priority on people and culture in organizations? How do you address this challenge effectively?

    Looking forward to hearing your insights!

    1. Hi Chas,

      I appreciate your inspirational and kind comment.

      For me, I don’t balance focussing on results with focussing on people. I focus on people 100% and because of that the results will come as a byproduct of my focus.

      It is difficult to do at first because you have focussed so much on results in the past. But, you need to work on yourself everyday to move away from focussing on results and focus on your people 100%.

      Hope that helps.

      All the best,


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