Engage and Develop Others

In Ken Blanchard’s book, The Secret, he teaches that effective leaders engage and develop people. What does engagement look like in the workplace? When you think of a team that is fully engaged, what comes to mind? Maybe you’ve had the experience of working on a team like this in the past.

My own experience on our Chaplain team for almost seven years has been my first real experience like this. I love serving on this team and watching what is possible when a team has clarity around our mission, our vision, and our purpose. As we have desired to grow and develop our resources, it has been fun to see our team engage around ideas and possibilities and to see where we are today and the exciting things ahead for our team and the impact it can have on our people and culture at Simmons.


  • What do engaged people look like in my context?
  • In the past, what factors have led me to be fully engaged?
  • Which of the factors are missing in those I am leading/influencing?
  • What do my people need to be more engaged?

CAUTION: One size doesn’t fit all. People have specific and unique engagement and development needs.

It can be tempting to want to put people in a “development box”. We might have this idea of what a perfect team member looks like (more often than not, if we’re honest, we’re trying to develop them into look more like ourselves). But the people on your team are unique. God has given them a set of talents and gifts, as well as strengths and weaknesses that make them who they are.

The secret to developing the people around you has more to do with the questions that you ask them than anything else. I experienced this first hand when I started at Simmons. Chaplain Wil Gardner was my leader and I was 23 years old. He had forgotten more than I knew about chaplaincy, pastoral care and, well, life in general. But he didn’t hold that over my head. He leveraged his knowledge, experience and time to invest in me - to help me develop into the person and leader he saw in me.

“Helping people leverage their strengths is one of the most rewarding parts of the leader’s role.”
— Ken Blanchard, The Secret

I’ll be honest, when I was in the interview process for the part-time Chaplain position at Simmons, I got to the end feeling that they needed someone with about 30 more years of experience. Mr. Wil said with a smile, “Yeah, that’s probably true.” Ouch. But he followed up with this, “But I don’t want to hire you because of what you know. I want to hire because of how you learn. If you will allow me to mentor you and walk alongside you, I know that you can succeed here.”

His first action in my development process was simply saying, “I believe in you.” The second was, “You have opportunities to grow. How can I help?” He asked me what areas I felt were my strengths, and he gave me opportunities to use them. He also asked me what areas I felt like were my weaknesses, and he helped me find training, spent time finding books on the topic, and consistently made time for us to sit down and discuss them.

The best leaders invest in the development of their people.
— Ken Blanchard, The Secret

I would not be who I am today without a leader like Mr. Wil seeing potential, expressing belief in me, and then following through by coming alongside and asking me great questions that helped me decide the areas I wanted to grow in next. He held me accountable to those goals and encouraged and challenged me along the way.

Have you had this experience before? I hope you have had at least one person in your career that has come alongside you and invested in your development like Mr. Wil did in mine. If you have, you know the amazing growth that can come out of a leader making that high level of an investment.

As leaders, it is our responsibility for those in our influence to grow while under our care. You might be thinking, why? Well, if a leader is aiming for his/her people to remain stagnant or to decline during their time under their leadership - they aren’t going to be a “leader” for much longer!

Here’s the principle behind the practice of engaging and developing others: As people’s engagement level rises, so does the probability of success.

Your mindset as a leader should not be to use your team to build up yourself. True leaders leverage themselves to build up their team members. It’s not about you. I challenge to you to invest the remainder of 2017 intentionally investing in those around you. Here are some great way to engage someone on the topics of development:

  •  Whether you are here for one year or the rest of your career, I hope that you experience growth as a result of being on this team. But I’m not sure what that looks like for you - so I thought I would ask you!

  • What areas are you interested in growing and developing (Skills, relationships, productivity, etc.)?

  • If I were to commit to investing in you in these areas, what would be helpful (resources, training, accountability, encouragement, mentor, etc)?

  • What impact would it make on your life and career if you accomplished this goal?

Great questions - but they don’t mean a thing unless you actually follow through. So let’s begin this week. I want to challenge to you to start with one person. I would even encourage you to pray about who that person might be. Let them know you believe in them, you desire to see them continue to grow, and you want to come alongside them and help.

You won't regret it. Your team will begin to flourish. And I believe strongly that your team will reach heights that you never thought possible as you engage and develop your team.