The Secret to Developing Authentic Leaders on Your Team is One Thing

The worst leaders fail to develop others. (Zenger and Folkman) But you can’t leverage weakness to develop strength.

Growth is energized by purpose and strength, not weakness and coercion.


The secret to developing authentic leaders is helping them become themselves.

Authentic development:

Warren Bennis taught that leadership is becoming yourself.

The secret of developing authentic leaders is helping them become themselves.

Authentic development uses purpose, talent, and strength as levers for growth.

Aspiration dilutes authenticity when growth and development cause people to forget who they are.

Adopt practices that express who you are to become who you aspire to be.


My signature strengths are:

  1. Creativity.
  2. Love of learning.
  3. Honesty.
  4. Gratitude.
  5. Fairness.

Forgiveness is one of my lesser strengths. (I love how the VIA Institute labels a weakness as a lesser strength.)

“How might I be more forgiving?” is a useful question. But it neglects an opportunity for authentic development.

The first question of authentic leadership development concerns purpose. “Why does developing forgiveness matter?” The second question leverages strength.

Creativity is my top strength. I am my truest self when I’m exploring ideas. A question like, “What are some creative ways to practice forgiveness?” allows me to tap into my authentic self.

Another question might be, “Which of your strengths are most relevant to your personal development?”


Use what you have to develop what you don’t have.

Successful development avoids using weaknesses as levers to develop authentic leaders.

Essentials of leadership development:

  1. Use purpose to energize growth and development. Why does development matter?
  2. Knowledge of strengths is essential to encouraging development.
  3. Spend most of your energy developing strengths.
  4. Develop weaknesses that sabotage strengths.

Development that neglects strengths is unstainable.

You must apply strengths to personal development opportunities to promote authentic growth.

How have you seen leadership development go wrong?

What makes leadership development work?

Bonus material:

Developing Leadership Qualities | CMOE

The 4 Vital Keys To Developing Others (