Help your people grow their futures

Help your people grow their futures

Leaders have a duty to show people how to take charge of developing their skills personally

Leaders growing their businesses and developing young people at the start of their careers today have an unprecedented opportunity. They also face some unexpected challenges. It is becoming more apparent that most companies now face significant talent shortages.

Fortunately, it has never been easier or more cost-effective to develop the skills of the people in your business to help them transform their careers.

There are many high-quality opportunities available, many of them free, all over the internet. You can easily use these to make a positive impact on your business with a little foresight. However, at the same time, particularly as we enter the hybrid working era, business leaders face significant obstacles in finding the best way forward. 

The traditional ways of developing skills for yourself and others are simply getting more and more outdated. This is because younger people coming into the workforce are less interested in sitting in a lecture room, for example. The ways the older generation developed themselves (or HR did) were great while they lasted. Now it is time to leave them behind.

Young people have better options. They have grown up accustomed to more fun and effective ways of developing skills. Everybody now needs and expects development approaches that suit the future rather than the best practices of the past.

These factors create an interesting situation. It is now more practical for leaders to place their people at least partly in control of their development. To achieve this, leaders need to reimagine the development opportunities they can offer and ensure that whatever they choose is not a one-size-fits-all approach. 

Leaders need to encourage their people to look at the approaches on offer, and if they do not fit, ask for ones that do. For example, encourage them to ask for on-the-job mentoring, coaching, and stretch assignments. They should be made aware of leadership peers or senior people in your organisation (or outside) who would be delighted to pass on some skills or benefit from an extra pair of talented hands on their project, even if only part-time.

Leaders also need to emphasise to their people that growth is the key to satisfaction in their jobs. Spend time with them one on one. Ask them to deeply consider the direction they see themselves taking. Make them aware that the world has changed, and unlike in the past, when deep expertise was a quick way up, they now may need more than one area of deep expertise, and a broad understanding of your business as well. Maybe look for opportunities in adjacent areas in which your people can build their base and maximise their future options.

Also, stress the importance of mastering themselves. Everybody’s journey must start with self-leadership. Without this critical ingredient, people will struggle regardless of the direction they choose to go.

Even in the current manic business landscape, the greatest gift a leader can give is the gift of time. If you want people to improve and bring new capabilities to your organisation or team, as well as opportunities, you have to allow them time each month to work on developing them. Encourage them to take a class, join a community, or learn however they prefer and give them space to do it.

Offer them a no-strings-attached opportunity to work in a completely different role in your team or organisation. These opportunities will help them build cross-departmental relationships they may need in the future. It will also help them better understand the realities and details of your business.

Advise them of peers who can coach them because all your people have different strengths they can share for free. I suggest leaders do not wait for your HR department to organise something. Get it going yourself and ask HR to support accordingly.

How to get started?

  • Ask your team members to identify their goals. They do not need to commit forever but simply figure out where they want to go. Asking them to co-create a strategy that will get them closer to their goals.
  • Help them identify their opportunities. But be practical, guide them in selecting opportunities that align with your organisation’s current needs and priorities.
  • Ask them to assess where they are. When your people take the time to research, better understand the skills they need and assess their current status, they are better aware of what success will require. There are plenty of online assessments and guides to developing skills out there.
  • Get started. Ask them to decide where they need to be and get started immediately.
  • Ensure they monitor their progress. Get them to check and report on how they are doing and adjust as required.

You will not get it 100% right the first time. That is not the point. The point is to have your people step up and take control and personal responsibility, and as a leader enable their future growth.

Arinya Talerngsri is Chief Capability Officer and Managing Director at SEAC — Southeast Asia’s Lifelong Learning Center. She can be reached by email at or Talk to us about how SEAC can help your business during times of uncertainty at

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