Leaders have a primary responsibility to develop more leaders. How to do it.

Stacey Ashley Blog

Leaders have a primary responsibility to develop more leaders. How to do it.

I was chatting with one of my clients a few days ago and he said, “I know I’ve got a responsibility to develop my people, to create more leaders, but I have to be honest, I really don’t know how. In terms of my own leadership, I just figured it out as I went along, it was mostly trial and error. So I haven’t been shown how to develop other people as leaders.”

This got me thinking because, to be honest, that exact thing happened in my own corporate career. Nobody really showed me, or taught me, how to be leader.

And I figure that this is a theme, this is a pattern, because the statistics reveal that people are not getting taught, they’re not getting development opportunities, they’re not getting supported, so they know how to become leaders.

When I was researching my first book, The New Leader, this is what I discovered:

  • 60% of new leaders fail in the first year1
  • 87% of first-time leaders feel frustrated, anxious, and uncertain about their new role2
  • 60% of leaders say they never received training when transitioning into their first leadership role3
  • 50% of managers in organisations are ineffective4
  1. Ashkenas, 2015.
  2. Tacy M. Byham and Richard S. Wellins
  3. & 4. Center for Creative Leadership

So I thought I would share with you a few ideas that you might be able to use as you think about how you can begin to develop the people around you and fulfil the primary responsibility you have to develop more leaders.


‘Leaders don’t create followers, They create more leaders.’

Tom Peters


Here are some of the things that leaders can focus on in order to develop their tribe, the people around them. They need to mentor, they need to model, and they need to coach leadership. This means you know leadership, you show leadership, and you grow leadership.



You can begin with just showing the people around you what leadership looks like. How it behaves, the approaches that it takes, the decisions that it makes. People need to see leadership in action so that they have something to aspire to, something to emulate, something to work towards. So simply being a leader and role modelling leadership is the first way of developing the people around you.

Perhaps it’s time to take a moment to reflect on your leadership and how you’re showing up right now. Raise your awareness of self and look for opportunities to improve the way, elevate the way, that you are practicing leadership today.

Identify the things that you want to be modelling in your leadership.

  • What does leadership look like from your perspective?
  • How does leadership behave?
  • How does leadership think?

In this way you can show others what leadership looks like.


‘If they can see it, they can be it.’

Geena Davis


The second opportunity you have to develop the people around you is to share what you have learned throughout your career. You have great knowledge, you have great wisdom. And so a wonderful way to develop others is to share that knowledge, to share your wisdom and experience.

You can do this using a mentoring approach. Consider what opportunities you have to share your wisdom and experience. Rather than you doing the doing and applying your expertise, how about sharing your expertise so that other people can grow their knowledge and domain expertise, and they can be doing the doing.

As Simon Sinek says, ‘Leaders are not responsible for the job. Leaders are responsible for the people that are responsible for the job.’

Your role as the leader is to give your people the equipment they need in order to be able to execute the task. So share your wisdom through mentoring.


The third opportunity for you to develop more leaders is to consider coaching your people. Such a key to developing accountability and initiative in others and allowing people to step into their own potential. So rather than telling them, rather than guiding them, it is about asking them and really learning to listen. Listen to the information that they share, listen to their ideas, listen to their challenges, then ask them great questions to find a way forward.

The idea here is to help your people build their own toolkit of experience, of problem solving, of decision-making, so that they don’t have to rely on you. Coaching enables both of you to then step into your roles more fully as leader and as a future or emerging leader.

Developing your own listening skills is a great way of starting the process of beginning to coach other people. Listening creates a space for others to explore and discover. Learning how to ask great questions, and then doing great listening is going to support you both.

One of the essentials to remember as the leader is you don’t need to be the expert at everything anymore. So let go of being the expert and coach others to grow their expertise and leadership.

Develop your tribe, Mentor, Model & Coach.

What would be a great first step for you as you focus on developing the leaders around you?


I’d love to know your thoughts.

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AND: Whenever you’re ready… here are 4 ways I can help you grow your coaching and leadership: