On Leadership, Play-Doh and Leading as a Developer

Remember how awesome Play-Doh was? It came in tons of different colors and, best of all, you could mold it into any shape you wanted. Anything was possible, from making entire scenes of parks to lumping all the colors together into one big ball.

There was ENDLESS potential!

Molding the Future

For many of us, the real world does not hold as many opportunities, especially when it came to other people. There are some, however, that see this endless potential in people. And not just any one person, they see it in all people.

For them, everyone has potential to grow and develop. Even if it’s in the tiniest way possible.

These people view each and every individual as a work in progress, a ball of Play-Doh waiting for structure, direction, and guidance.

Sound like you? Then you possess the Developer Strength.

Being a Developer

As a Developer, you are a natural born coach. You seek out others you can council, mentor, and guide. You do not require your mentee to move mountains, rather your satisfaction comes from even the smallest signs of potential being fulfilled.

You’re so adept at noticing these steps toward progress that others around you may not even see what you do.

To them, the improvements are invisible; for you, those improvements are the fuel that inspires you to move on:

  • Everyone has clear signs of potential
  • Everyone has the ability to fulfill them
  • You truly believe that, and others can tell

People will often seek you out as a coach or for encouragement because they know you can and will help, and that it will be genuine and heartfelt.

As A Leader

It would also seem natural that Developers have the ability to become great leaders. One of the most important jobs any leader of people must do is develop.

As a Developer, you are naturally attune to the potential of others, and enjoy facilitating growth.

People will flock to you for this very reason. Everyone wants their talents acknowledged, and most people seek mentors who will help them nurture, develop, and aim those talents toward their performance.

Keeping Things Fresh

As well as you remember the fun of Play-Doh, you probably also remember the downsides. If you left it out too long, it would get hard and crumbly. Sometimes it would be so bad, you could no longer mold it into much of anything.

It had reached its full potential, and it was time for you to move on to some different Play-Doh.

As a Developer, it’s important for you to recognize when the people you are training are not in a developing space. In other words, sometimes people aren’t ready to head down the path of growth. Timing is crucial for many people, so you need to be aware of when you’re pushing someone before they are ready.

Though your purview does not lend you to believe this, it’s vital that you recognize when someone is un-moldable, like the hardened Play-Doh (…at least for the time being!)

Leveraging Your Dynamics

The best thing to do is leverage theme dynamics – lean on one of your other, more discerning Strengths, like Maximizer or Significance, to allow yourself to filter out who is ready and who is not. If you are lacking sophistication, or do not have another Strength you can easily leverage, utilize your team members and their strengths.

If there is someone on your team with Competition, they will be able to give you the metrics of the team – who the top performers are, who is improving, and who doesn’t seem to do more than show up.

If you’re spending your time developing low performers or actively disengaged people, you’ll not only be wasting your time, you won’t be fulfilling your own potential.

Create a filter for yourself so you know who is worth coaching at the moment, and who isn’t.

If you’re a Developer, do you find yourself spending a lot of time on low performers? Have you been able to develop a filter for who is worth the time and who is not? How do you discern between the two? I would love to hear your thoughts!


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Learn, Grow & Develop Other Leaders

Alexsys "Lexy" Thompson HCS, SWP

Alexsys “Lexy” Thompson is Managing Partner at Fokal Fusion
She helps building Strong Leaders through Strong People Strategy
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L2L Contributing Author


  1. John Smith on May 14, 2014 at 9:42 am

    Reblogged this on THE STRATEGIC LEARNER and commented:
    He had me at “Play-Doh” …

  2. ramakrishnan6002 on May 14, 2014 at 9:19 pm

    Reblogged this on Gr8fullsoul.