Develop – Why It Tends To Be Missing In Reality

"Education" or "training"?

Of our three primary functions of leadership – lead, develop, and care – develop is the one we find most missing. I would suggest it’s missing for two reasons. First, we’ve equated knowledge with development.


I was walking with a couple of friends of mine in Dublin, Ireland. We were talking about some training they had been doing with some of their fellow colleagues. They kept using the term “training” or “development” as they shared. I asked them what they meant by those terms.

They shared that they had presented some seminar material where they basically lectured and the participants took notes in their handout. To them, this was training. When I asked them if the participants had had the opportunity to actually see the practices being done, the answer was negative. I then asked if the participants had had the opportunity to try out the new practices in real life settings with coaches watching to see how they did. Again, the answer was in the negative.

To my two friends, training had taken place because information was shared and assumed would be applied. Yet, it was all information or knowledge based. There was no means of experiential learning. I asserted that while the information was undoubtedly good and useful, the process of training was not completed. More needed to be done for actual training to have been accomplished.

Second, we’ve substituted what is easy for what is essential. Typically today, that means that the ease of online access to information can take the place of hands-on observation and feedback. Let me suggest that true development must include all three: information, observation, and feedback.

I think a classic image of this is the apprenticeship model. I have a print showing an old cobbler making shoes seated next to a younger lad doing the same. The drawing illustrates some key points critical in the development others. It shows for real development to take place intentionality, time, observation, and feedback are required. All those are in play because they are seated right next to each other with the master cobbler both working a shoe himself while looking over at his young apprentice doing the same. The apprentice can watch the master. The master can watch the apprentice. Comments and questions can flow readily.

This is a very labor intensive model of development. hat’s why the easier “just look it up on the internet and you’ll get all you need approach” is so popular. Yet, being intentional about instructing, observing, and giving feedback is still the best way to grow and develop others.

Question: How about you in your development of those you lead? Are you making some substitutions…education for training? Ease for essentials? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.