Leadership Capability: Developing Others

This blog is part of a 16-part series focused on what capabilities make a strong leader. Sounding Board has identified 16 leadership capabilities that the strongest leaders possess. These were developed from research-backed leadership theories, leadership competencies used for evaluation from top business schools, and 25+ years of practical coaching application. 

The pandemic has seen many people resign. As a result many organizations are facing a talent shortage. Employee engagement is crucial for any organization that aims to retain top talent and attract new talent. One of the best ways to boost employee engagement is to offer opportunities for employees to develop their skills.

Research shows that most employees value an organization that provides opportunities to develop new skills. Good leaders recognize the importance of this and go out of their way to help their team grow as individuals and as a team.

What does it mean to develop others?

It is said that the mark of a good leader is that they create a vision that outlives their leadership. This vision must be shared and carried out gradually by other adept team members. Such an enduring impact is the result of conscientious investments in leadership and employee development. 

For today’s leaders, developing others requires anchoring your thoughts to the individual and looking outside of the self. That personalization is one reason leadership coaching is so effective as a development tool. However, it’s important to reflect on a few questions to help guide your conversations with your team members. What is the individual like? What are their essential qualities? What are some of their important contributions? Where are they looking to make improvements? 

It’s on the leader to understand team dynamics and how individuals operate within them in order to help others develop. The best leaders know how to draw out their employees’ strengths. They also put in the time and effort to help them develop within their teams because they understand the impact this has on their organizations. As people grow and improve in their capabilities, so too does your business.

What are the qualities of leaders who develop others?

A leader with strong skills in developing others will:

  • Co-create strategies to address development needs.
  • Provide timely, specific, constructive, and positive feedback.
  • Create opportunities for team members to expand their skills. 
  • Identify and agree on professional and personal growth priorities with team members.
  • Align employees’ developmental opportunities to the organization’s strategic needs and plans.

Benefits and importance of developing employees

A carefully thought-out employee development strategy is essential at multiple levels. That’s one key reason that leadership coaching is no longer solely reserved for the most senior leaders. When used correctly, leadership coaching can serve a wide range of benefits for all involved, including employees, HR managers, really anyone in any functional area of the business. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Performance improvement: For companies to remain competitive in their niche, an organization must continue to outperform the competition. In fact, according to a meta-analysis from Gallup, companies with the highest levels of employee engagement showed 21 percent higher levels of profitability. Staff development can help an organization meet and even exceed expectations because it keeps people’s skills up to date and improves the bottom line.


  1. Better equipped to handle the unexpected: Today’s business climate is all about adapting to change, but change can be a challenge for employees and businesses. However, if it’s appropriately managed, new changes can open up unexpected opportunities. With supportive leadership, consistent employee development, and leadership coaching, you and your team will always be up for the challenge.


  1. Attract new employees and improve loyalty: Businesses cannot attract the best and brightest talent and stay competitive without offering the best terms in the market. Companies today are more competitive and agile, and employees are more actively involved in securing a culture of learning and knowledge sharing from their employer. They know develop is key to their growth, and the companies that offer it, win. Promoting leadership development plans that feature personalized leadership coaching helps to create an attractive, supportive work environment, especially when compared to stagnant businesses set in outdated, company-first ways.

  2. Retain employees: Investing in a leadership coaching program for employees to ensure that they can do what they need to keep your business up and running is a proven retention strategy. Further, employee development can be a significant cost saver in the long run. According to The Society for Human Resource Management, it costs a company 6 to 9 months of an employee’s salary to replace him or her. For an employee making $60,000 per year, that could mean $30,000 – $45,000 in costs. Instead of losing potential talent, it makes more sense to your bottom line to develop your current talent rather than invest in sourcing new talent.

How do leaders develop others?

As a leader, there are a few vital things you can do to develop your team, and increase employee satisfaction and retention. Here are four essentials when developing others:

  1. Prioritize performance management: Employees are more likely to feel more positive about their individual development if their leader reviews and discusses their performance with regular feedback, and gives them stretch assignments. With the right leadership coaching program, that happens automatically.

    As a leader, it’s easy to over-concentrate on critical organizational tasks. You can focus so much on business details that you forget to focus on your team and direct reports’ performance. Leaders who resist developing their employees assume that employees’ current performance represents their best effort. That is definitely not the case. Leaders who make time to review performance, discuss development plans regularly, and challenge team members to accomplish stretch goals, see and develop greater potential.

  2. Involve team members: Involving your team members in their own development and decisions that impact your business goals makes them feel better about their growth opportunities. Team members appreciate development when they can contribute and participate. When opportunities for advancement are linked to their passion, they become more motivated and in turn, more loyal.


  3. Recognize and reward hard work: Most employees appreciate being recognized for their hard work or effort. When leaders do their best in recognition, their employees feel good about their progress and feel like valued members of the team. Development without receiving credit is like a completed task that’s never acknowledged or reviewed. It takes a lot of effort, and with no follow up it can feel like no one cares. 
  1. Ensure the job fits the person: Some people will be much better at some jobs than others, and getting a job that suits a person’s ability helps that individual, and ultimately the organization wins. The best leaders help their team members find their niche. They see team members for their strengths and help them succeed in that context.


Employee development is the process of ensuring that your talent becomes more effective and is capable of tackling major or critical challenges. Like leadership development and leadership coaching, developing others is an imperative for all people managers. 

At Sounding Board, we understand it can be challenging to balance all the responsibilities of being a great leader. That’s why we’ve developed leadership coaching solutions that are specially designed to help you help others. Our coaches are highly trained and qualified to design coaching programs that best suit your organization’s needs. Request a demo today.

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Niall MacGearailt leads Sounding Board’s finance division as the SVP of Finance and Operations. Niall earned a solid track record of improving P&L and operational expense management for leading companies such as Whirlpool, Logitech, Avaya and most recently Soraa, where he prepared the business for acquisition by leading hi-tech lighting company, Ecosense. In his role, he is responsible for building and leading the finance & relevant operations functions for the company.

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Tommy Perkins


Tommy is at his best helping clients think through complex challenges in order to create a positive impact on their organizations. He thrives when interacting with others whether helping his team succeed or working with clients to build long-term partnerships. He has extensive experience consulting with organizations on driving their employee experience, guiding organizations through change, and working to ensure organizations are moving the needle when it comes to their results.

Most recently, Tommy was a Client Services Leader overseeing some of GP’s most prized accounts on a global level. His responsibilities included overall client growth strategy, retention, and satisfaction. He represented all of GP Strategies’ major business lines including leadership, coaching, and engagement, digital transformation, outsourced services, and technology implementation solutions.

Before GP Strategies, Tommy spent several years with TTEC Digital (formerly rogenSI) where he led the sales team,  eventually becoming the regional Learning & Performance practice leader for North America. While managing the P&L and sales team he also led the largest global relationship for the firm (Deloitte Globally). During his time at TTEC, he focused on delivering blended learning solutions that incorporate technology and hands-on training. Before TTEC Digital, he spent several years dedicated to strength-based leadership disrupting the business landscape regarding performance management and employee engagement with thought leader Marcus Buckingham at The Marcus Buckingham Company / TMBC (now ADP).

Tommy has had the privilege of working with some of the most well-known global brands in professional services, retail, technology, and healthcare including Deloitte, Facebook, Microsoft, Bank of America, Novartis, Gap Inc., lululemon, and Intel. Several projects he led for Deloitte were Global GNPS, New Partner Pivot, NextGen Partner Program Deloitte China, Present to Win, the RPM project on performance management, and Unconscious Bias.

Tommy holds a BS in Health Sciences from Texas A&M University, and an MBA from Universidad del CEMA.

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Lori Mazan

Co-Founder & CCO Sounding Board, Inc.
Lori Mazan is the Co-Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of Sounding Board, the preeminent global leadership development enterprise platform changing the face of leadership development through innovative technology for leaders at all levels of an organization. Lori is a seasoned executive coach who has guided hundreds of corporate executives through 1:1 coaching focused on business outcomes and developing critical leadership skills. Client companies advanced by Lori’s expertise include Fortune titans such as Chevron and Sprint as well as high growth and public companies like Intellikine, and Tapjoy, plus 10XGenomics, which became a public company in 2019 while top executives worked with Lori and the Sounding Board team.
Lori has spent the last 25 years coaching C-Suite executives to leadership excellence. Many of those public and private company CEO’s expressed that they would have liked this caliber of coaching earlier in their careers. Inspired by these experiences, Lori joined with Christine to launch Sounding Board as a feedback-driven, cloud-based leadership coaching platform that could maintain best-in-class leadership coaching while lowering costs to make it affordable and scalable for leaders at every level of their careers.
Before founding Sounding Board, Lori received her Masters’ in Adult Educational Psychology/Counseling from the University of San Francisco and a Bachelors’ in Psychology from the University of Virginia. Lori is an educator and has spent over 10 years as a professor of social psychology and group dynamics while acting as the interim Dean of Students at Holy Names University, She is certified by the industry’s gold standard, the Coaches Training Institute, and is a founding member of the Genentech Preferred Network of Coaches. Sounding Board is one of <3% of sole female founded startups receiving venture funding. In 2019 Sounding Board was selected as 1 of 7 startups (out of 100+ applicants) as part of SAP’s HR tech cohort, a group that represents the rising stars of the next-gen HR ecosystem.

Christine Tao

Co-Founder & CEO Sounding Board, Inc.
Christine Tao is the co-founder & CEO at Sounding Board, a Silicon Valley startup redefining how organizations are developing their leaders. Her extraordinarily rapid career growth to executive management in the media, mobile and tech sectors of Silicon Valley became her inspiration for founding Sounding Board. As she began to manage larger teams and be responsible for growing revenues, it became clear that she needed a “sounding board” to coach her on the development of her leadership skills. That’s where her Sounding Board co-founder, Lori Mazan came on the scene. A seasoned executive coach focused on leadership development, Lori coached Christine on real-world leadership skills that had a direct impact on business outcomes. Based on her positive and impactful experience with leadership development, Christine was driven to make leadership development coaching accessible to people at all levels of the organization.
Christine advises several startups, is a budding angel investor and is also a Tory Burch Foundation Fellow, a foundation dedicated to investing in the success and sustainability of women entrepreneurs.
Prior to co-founding Sounding Board, Christine was a Senior Vice President of Developer Relations at Tapjoy, a venture-backed, leading mobile advertising & publishing network. She led the growth of Tapjoy’s publisher advertising business from 0 to over $100 million in revenues in less than 3 years. Prior to that she led e-commerce partnerships and strategy at YouTube. Christine holds an MBA in Marketing & Operations from Wharton and a BA in Business Administration from UC Berkeley.