Sunday, October 19, 2008

10 “Off-the-Job” Leadership Development Opportunities

Life’s one long leadership development class.

There are opportunities to develop as leaders all around us, inside and outside of our Monday – Friday, 8-5 existence.

As you identify leadership capabilities you’d like to development, here is a list of 10 “off-the-job”, “non-work” experiences that you can incorporate into your individual development plan (IDP), along with the leadership lessons they can teach us:

1. Coaching a team: developing others, teamwork, building and leading a team, motivation, performance management

2. Parenting: coaching, development, patience, interpersonal skills, selflessness, stewardship

3. Step-parenting: Dealing with inherited problems, taking over and owning a project that wasn’t your idea, solving problems and dealing with significant stakeholders, overcoming resistance to change

4. Marriage (or being with a significant other): listening, patience, negotiation, collaboration

5. Being an in-law or dealing with in-laws: dealing with diversity, collaboration, acceptance of cultural differences, building and maintaining positive relationships

6. Managing a family: budgeting, financial planning, multi-tasking, planning and scheduling, resolving conflicts, setting priorities, resource utilization, leading change

7. Leading a community organization: an opportunity to practice leadership and receive feedback in a less risky environment

8. Planning a school or social event: project management, planning, budgeting, goal setting, building consensus, dealing with opposition

9. Home improvement projects: learning from mistakes, planning, patience, reflection

10. Joining a weight loss or exercise program: goal setting, motivation, discipline, reward and recognition

Can you think of others? How else can we develop our leadership skills when we’re not being paid?


Vasilij said...

Great list Dan,

Something I would add to the list:

1. Acting in theater - presentation skills, public appearance.

2. Joining debate club - learning to have a healthy and constructive discussion, argument, evaluate ideas based on their merit.

James Higham said...

Quite comprehensive for someone coming into the field.

Simon Stapleton ( said...

How About Death (of someone else)? Learning how to close down something and clear up after someone else has moved on

CherryPie said...

Joining any sort of club. Being on a committee.

Jeff said...

1. Teaching a class- a great way to see how others learn and watch the dynamics of teams.

2. Making a Youtube Video. You get to see play the role of actor, writer, editor, producer and director. You really see where your strengths lie when you watch the final product. Plus you get to be creative.

3. Growing a garden: patience, planning, understanding.

4. Writing a blog-discipline, communication

Anonymous said...

Great post Dan - Thanks for reminding me and everyone else that leadership isn't developed solely on the job and in the workplace!

I am sharing your post with my readers in my weekly 'Fab Five' blog picks of the week found here:

Be well Dan!

Dan McCarthy said...

Vasilij, James, Simon, Cherry, Jeff -
thanks for the nice adds.

Chris -
Thanks, I'm honored!

Unknown said...

Great post Dan, how about ...

Volunteering with the elderly or physically handicapped: patience, compassion, empathy, reflection, motivation.

Anonymous said...


I am writing an article, as a volunteer, on good HR blogs for a professional organization that I belong to, WorldatWork. I will submit it to the periodical, Workspan, for consideration. I would like to profile your blog and in each profile I want to include the education ( school and degree) and any certifications of the blogger. Could you please provide this for me here.


Frank Giancola

Dan McCarthy said...

Frank -
That sounds great.
Here's my education:
Masters degree in Human Resource and Organizational Development, Rochester Institute of Technology.
Please send me a link when/if published.

Anonymous said...


Great list and great comments to go with your original list. I like the reminder that life is a series of leadership opportunities. This post reminds me of a statement I often make as a trainer: "Leadership is more about who you are than it is about what you do."

Thanks for the post. This is a good list and a good reminder of the many opportunities we all have to "be" a great leader.

Dan McCarthy said...

Guy -
Thanks for stopping by. Great quote - very true.