As a team leader, you know you shape the future and direction of your team members' careers, but did you also know that you also have the power to shape other aspects of their lives as well?

We usually think of personal development as something that we do in our spare time to help us advance with our professional goals, in the 'real world'.

In fact, personal development is something that permeates every aspect of our lives. It can’t be separated from our lives at work. And people want and need meaningful work that enriches their lives beyond their day-to-day tasks.

As Stephen Covey put it:

"You can buy your employees' time and muscle...but their hearts and minds come free.”

So what do we really mean by personal development?

When we talk about personal development, we mainly refer to three areas that are linked together: habits, health and career. But can professional and career development happen if there is no development in the areas of habits and health? Can someone who is not happy, healthy and fulfilled in their personal life be capable of being a happy, healthy and fulfilled employee?

In a way, you and your company are only as strong as your weakest link.

Helping your staff develop outside of work doesn’t only help them be more fulfilled in their personal life. It will also make them more productive and successful in their current roles.

Picture Maslow’s hierarchy of needs pyramid. At the top of the pyramid is self-actualization.

Maslow defined self-actualization as “the impulse to convert oneself into what one is capable of being.”

Maslow's Hierarchy of needs personal development

In many ways, assisting your staff in personal development is exactly about assisting them on the road to self-actualization, to becoming the person they are capable of being.

How will this benefit your company and the rest of the team?


Employees who feel fulfilled or see that their fulfillment is one of your priorities will actually be more motivated to put forward their best work.


“Train people well enough so they can leave. Treat them well enough so they don’t want to.” ~ Richard Branson

Care about your people if you want them to care about you.


When team members see that you are willing to invest in them, they will be willing to invest in you.


If you invest in your team member's personal development, you will start to notice that they become more proactively engaged in the company, and are more likely to put forward discretionary effort.

The way people feel and think affects how they work, how productive they are and how they relate with others.

How to help team members on their road to personal development

It's not just about giving them opportunities to grow within the company. It's also not just about gym memberships. 

  • Have a yearly training budget dedicated to training. Use it to help team members upgrade their skills.
  • Think about implementing coaching and mentoring programs in your company. Of course, there is always (or should be) a certain amount of ongoing coaching and mentoring. Make it official so that everyone will be more proactive in tracking the things they learn.
  • Consider having a job rotation or a cross-training program. It will give employees better insight into the business, and into what areas they are more interested in. This will help you align job duties with their personal goals.
  • Encourage team members to set learning goals. Whether it's just a personal ambition or a professional skill, learning is extremely important for your company. Your team members will feel a confidence boost and will thank you for caring about their improvement.
  • Sign your team up for an online task management or time management course.
  • Allow for mindful interruptions for your team. For example, share an inspirational video, article or quote together when you know your team is least productive in the week.
  • Focus on transferable skills - those skills that can be applied to different areas of life, such as communication, team work, assertiveness and emotional intelligence. These will benefit your team members individually in all areas of life, as well as your team at large.
  • Volunteer together. Find a cause your whole team can get behind and do something about it. Not only is it a great team building activity, but making a difference as a team is also a great morale booster.

It’s important to understand that personal development is not just about career development. Allow your team members to work and reflect on their lives as a whole. Work and personal life are not separate, they intersect and influence each other. 

You are probably aware by now that even the most skilled professionals don’t perform well when they are worn out and jaded.

So place extra importance on your team members’ emotional, psychological and physical well being.

They’ll thank you for it, and your business will reap the benefits.

How do you help team members develop, at and outside of work? Share your comments with us in the section below.