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19 January 2023

The magic of triple purpose development

Written by
Lisa Vos

Clients sometimes ask us: “Which development should we focus on first: development of our business outcomes, team/organizational development or deep personal development?” Others might ask which of those three areas CL mainly focuses on, so they know for which type of development they can best engage us. 

Our experience is that these three aspects are not separate things that one approaches in an either/or or in a sequential way. In fact, we see creating outstanding business outcomes, deep team/organization development and deep personal development as intricately connected elements. All three are always present in the life of an organization or team, whether one pays attention to this or not. And one element cannot truly develop without developing the other two. Think about it like this: to create exceptional business outcomes, one needs a well-functioning and developing team/organization and conscious and ever-growing individual leaders; to develop a high functioning team/organization requires mature and developing individual leaders and a business reason to go into the deep end of change together; and to truly step into the psychological discomfort of deep personal development most leaders we know need to see a clear business imperative to do so and a team to be in it with them.

Examples range from how we approach big longitudinal development programs to tiny everyday interactions with clients. A small example might illustrate it best. We were engaged by a client who asked our help with shifting their culture into a more collaborative, flexible and high-performing one. Whilst the client initially operated from an assumption that ‘performance’, ‘team’ and ‘individual’ would be addressed in separate ‘work streams’, to us this was a clear example of where business, team and individual are intimately connected. And the magic of the shift would be in this interconnectedness rather than in the elements.  One of the development mechanisms we used was the following. We asked the client to nominate 2-3 high profile, high-stakes strategic projects that each required good collaboration across organizational boundaries and high performance at pace. To be crystal clear, these were REAL projects, not tasks that were created for development’s sake. Each of these projects was struggling to meet the performance targets and there was significant tension in each of the teams. The clear business objective (deliver on the project objectives at pace and high standards), combined with the strategic significance of the projects, gave us the permission to work on the team dynamics at a deep level, to surface the tensions that were at play and help the team to work through them. The tough work on the team dynamics brought out individual patterns and unhelpful tendencies in each of the team members and we could deliberately work on them both in conversations in the team and in some individual coaching. This personal development work then made the work on team dynamics a lot easier and more productive. Surfacing which key tensions were getting in the way of the team delivering their best outcomes and helping the team and individuals work through those tensions led to noticeable project results right away. Which in turn… etc etc.

We find that we do the most impactful development work when we focus on all three areas at the same time, in their interconnectedness. When we develop business, team and individuals at the same time, in the context of the environment the business operates in, magic happens and clients report back unexpected growth on all three.

So when you call us next and ask us whether you should engage us for personal development, team development or business development, be ready to be invited to go on a journey that develops all three.

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