Developing People

Developing People

Taking the Oxford Women’s Leadership Development Program pushed me to examine how we develop people. In the past, I have been advocating how we need to utilize people’s superpower vs. trying to focus on room for improvement. But there is nuance to this general statement.

For example, I was looking at a designer on a design team. What if a particular competency is required to do the job that this designer is missing? Say visual design. As a manager, do we encourage the designer to practice the skill or shift the visual design task to other team members who have this designer pair with someone strong in visual design? —It is a choice.

Dr. David Pendleton’s framework Strengths-based model brought some discipline in this discussion.

Now we can look at day-to-day responsibilities. And map it out whether a skill falls under the potential strength area or the resistant limitations area for the individual. 

Furthermore, we can see this framework as a starting point, a living document to help us to evaluate our skill development plan. But, of course, there are many nuances in practice. For example, where to draw the line that the individual is good at? Because “good at” is a relevant term compared to themself and people in the design organization. Also, it is a relevant term compared to how many capabilities and competencies are on the list. 

When capability falls under resistant limitations area, the approach can also be multi-dimensional. The workaround doesn’t mean “avoidance”—a combination of continuing developing skills collaboration with other experts is required.

Things are never black and white. Developing people is even more challenging. However, this framework provided an excellent model for people managers as a starting point to help our people.


Pendleton, D., & Furnham, A. (2011). Leadership: All You Need To Know. Palgrave Macmillan.

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