Personal development interventions

by Donnie MacNicol

There are many ways in which you can develop leadership skills, although individuals and organisations often struggle to identify ways to do so. This post looks at providing an overview of possible key interventions for personal development.

For each type of intervention, the following four questions need to be asked:

  • Is this readily available to me?
  • Is this of interest to me?
  • Will it benefit me directly?
  • Will it benefit the projects I work on and the organisation?

Below is a list of key interventions that can be implemented and it has been adapted from Project Leadership 3rd Edition, where this information is featured in more detail.

  • Self-reflection: Creating space and time to reflect on your actions and reactions to events, so that you can understand what you can learn and increase self-awareness. This distinguishes high performers and requires commitment until it becomes habit. Mainstream examples include meditation and mindfulness.

  • Reflective journal: Documenting your reflections in note form, diagrams or mind-maps. It helps to increase critical thought, understanding and follow-up.

  • Personal performance management: Gaining insight into your own performance, as a result of appraisals, discussions with peers, seniors, mentors or coaches, or informal discussions. It should be used as a basis to plan further development to improve personal performance.

  • Project experience: Working on projects is a necessary environment and support for learning to take place, as an opportunity to apply what has been learnt and gain critical experience.

  • Self-study: Learning topics of interest and value. The internet has made available a vast array of materials which makes self-study easier.

  • Feedback: Requesting and obtaining insight on personal performance from different perspectives. Be sure you want to receive feedback but note that often it is the negative and challenging feedback that helps us most.

  • Coaching: Working through particular problems, on a one-to-one basis, provided by an internal or external coach. This helps to develop individuals to achieve the best performance possible.

  • Mentoring: Providing advice and support, which typically comes from someone who has had similar experiences or responsibilities. This can help you work through your own issue or situation and can be done one to one, or one to many.

  • Buddying: Informally supportive relationship, which is an opportunity to share and compare approaches and experiences with others. Typically this is to provide mutual support through a close association.

  • Shadowing: Gaining insight from observing others, usually on a temporary basis. It is effective for individuals moving into a new role, who need to develop particular expertise.

  • Secondment: Gaining experience in new environments, where an individual temporarily transfers to another role for a defined period of time.

  • Training: Gaining knowledge and skills through a multiplicity of options; face to face, classroom based, distance and e-learning, simulation and gamification.

  • Storytelling: Actively seeking out opportunities to listen to others who have specific insights, which may be beneficial to your own position.

  • Communities of interest: Joining and participating in communities or groups of people who share a common interest, and who share their experience, knowledge, skills and learning.

  • Professional body membership: Participating in the wider profession by belonging to a professional body. This provides access to policy makers, researchers and a network of contacts. Membership also provides recognition of your knowledge.

  • Professional body qualification: Gaining formal qualifications or accreditations demonstrates your skill and commitment, increases your value and enhances your career prospects.

  • Community investment initiative: Contributing to the wider society are opportunities for personal development, typically under the headings of ‘Corporate Social Responsibility’ or ‘Business in the Community’.

  • Organisational investment task: Investing time and energy to contribute to initiatives outside your immediate area and remit, are opportunities for networking and contributing to the wider organisation.

  • Networking: Interacting with others to exchange information and develop professional contacts. This broadens your horizons, and increases your exposure to different experiences, people and ways of working.

  • Academic qualification: Obtaining knowledge and skills provides specialised development.

  • Conferences and seminars: Attending events exposes you to new offerings and thinking. You can hear a variety of practitioners and researchers, as well as taking the opportunity to present your own experiences.


This list is neither mutually exclusive nor collectively exhaustive. Some people may value certain activities more than others and personal development should be about finding the best approach for each individual. In our experience, self-reflection is one of the most powerful but underrated activities.


Team Animation Ltd


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