Development is always a hot topic. How do leaders develop employees? How do coaches develop athletes? How do teachers develop students? Development is always at the forefront of organizations and teams believing that development is the route to success. However, development has many moving parts when identifying the best approach for an individual or organization to develop. It is not as simple as “this is the way to develop our team”, it requires some self-awareness. Here are some key questions when setting a plan for development:

1. Where are we as a group or individual? What diminishes our development? More importantly how do we overcome our diminishing effects?

2. Where do we want to go? -2 months, 5 months? What does our performance look like in a year, what are our measurable aspects? How do we know we have achieved this?

3. What are our daily nonnegotiables? What aspects or focus points do we portray everyday?

In a great article by Jamie Diaz (Golf Digest, September 2014), the author discusses and interviews Jordan Spieth (21 years old) as the “next big thing.” A few aspects in Jordan’s young career stand out for me when we discuss development. The first, Jordan’s father Shawn stated “we wanted them (siblings)…….to learn different skills. Too many kids in sports are single-dimensional too early. I would encourage Jordan to get better at something every month. Learning to do that helps in your whole life.” This quote speaks volumes to question #2 of where you want to go and how you want to get there. Speaking to question #1 and #3 Jordan’s swing coach (who he has been with since the age of 12) Cameron McCormick who states that his approach to Jordan’s swing is “to make constant progress while respecting Spieth’s fingerprint and making what already work more repeatable.” Furthermore, “a tour player and his teacher have a delicate balance between proficiency and improvement that we’re trying to weigh all the time. What is the cost of getting better in terms of time and performance? What’s worth it and what isn’t? Jordan does that calculation very well.”

At the end of August I had a great opportunity to go up to Yellowknife to instruct on ice (technical/tactical hockey skills) and in the class room (high performance strategies) with Polar United. There are many examples alone of development in this camp however the organizers that brought me up orchestrated an opportunity to meet Grant Beck (world champion musher) and visit Beck Kennels. It was great to chat about his development for not only his teams of dogs but also himself as the leader. Both parties invest approximately 8-12 months of development for longer races. Placing themselves in competition and creating some accountability (based on distances) within the team of dogs. It occurred to me then that high performance is high performance in any competition (mushing, ice hockey, golf and business).

The key to development is being task and process orientated when establishing the plan. Therefore the objectives listed above should be measurable and attainable, however challenging because if it is not challenging we will never gain confidence. We all discuss the importance of development but as organizations or individuals do we have structured plans that helps us manage our journey and expectations? We want outcomes but championships are not won in three weeks, the best high performing organizations or individuals invest much more time before that.


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