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The power of one: developing the individual and the business


Don't forget the personal development side of developing your leaders, says Penny Ferguson.

If you’re new to training, an obvious starting point is outlining the key objectives of your business and asking how these can be reached through new training. What are we lacking? What do we need to develop? How can we train our employees in new skills and expand their knowledge?

Not only is this a sensible starting point it’s also a common one. In fact, I would go further than that by saying that virtually every business does this on a regular basis when it evaluates the sales figures and key performance indicators (KPIs) that are its lifeblood.

"Personal leadership programmes engage with key influencers within the business, who can then spread the word further."

It would be easy to assume that you’re therefore on the right track. Undoubtedly, commercial targets need to play a part in understanding what you want training to achieve. Equally though it would be foolish not to assess what previous training has achieved. While commercial targets are a vital part of a training strategy, are they always enough?

First, don’t think you’ve got it all wrong by focusing on commercial targets. As well as sales figures and KPIs, these are a good place to start when assessing your training needs. The problem is that many companies are failing to add the final ingredient that makes the sales figures rise: development of the individual.

This is particularly true in the area of leadership training. Truly transformational leadership development combines results driven training and individual personal development. Your focus should not simply be supplying a narrowly focused toolkit consisting of skills and knowledge that can only be used in the workplace.

It should also be on shifting mindsets and understanding, it is about changing the way you and your employees think. The way people operate at work isn’t just restricted to the workplace, personal leadership applies to every aspect of your life.

The underlying tensions that exist in all businesses and restrict their ability to progress are intrinsically linked to the different approaches two individuals take. It is for this reason that the commercial benefits of training need to be play their part. However it is by changing the way a company develops its people, that these benefits can be found. The parallel approach that develops personal leadership in line with the processes and systems ensures that sustainable change, which is still obvious weeks and months and years later, is possible.

One of the ways this sustainable change can be achieved is by doing away with standard classroom teaching. It may seem to have worked on the day but it doesn‘t stick outside the classroom. Personal leadership programmes engage with key influencers within the business, who can then spread the word further.

Companies that have never undertaken personal leadership programmes before may find the model unfamiliar. However, by combining personal development with commercial goals they allow the individual to improve both as an employee and a person.


Penny Ferguson is managing partner at personal leadership development provider, The Living Leader. To date more than 35,000 individuals have experienced its Personal Leadership Programme.

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