How to develop leadership in your area of expertise within your busy schedule?

Taking time for learning and development is critical for anyone who wants to improve performance results and leadership competencies. With tight schedules, daily tasks, and urgent meetings, learning to lead can often be considered as less priority. But advancing does not have to be time-consuming and mostly can be done in the course of daily routine.

The latest research shows that structured learning should account for 10% of leadership development, experimenting ~70%, and balance 20% of self-discovery.

Leadership Development

We are all familiar with learning from different platforms which impart professional training. However, the difficult part is to identify which areas to work on. For this, it is essential to locate at least two leadership traits that you want to develop, which have been identified from performance reviews or 360-degree results. 

After this, we have to identify the time limit within which we want to develop this skill. Often leaders make critical mistakes by trying too much in too little time. People get excited, watch an hour of content in a day, and get overwhelmed by too many ideas and tips. They either lose motivation or try to implement quickly and get discouraged by the lack of results. Remember, this is a long-term game-small actions every day will be much more effective in the long term, than small bursts of activity.

Many online programs are built just with short videos, meaning that you only need to spend a few minutes a day. You have to find a course that matches a developmental area you have identified. Commit to watching one or two short videos a day, in addition to making physical or mental notes of key takeaways and ideas on how to implement them into your day.

Self Discovery

This should take ~20% of the time for leadership development.

The best way is to spend time observing other leaders. Find a leader who demonstrates behaviors aligned with your areas of development. Observe how and what they do. Ask them why they did something, make notes, and think about how you can replicate it.


This is the most important chunk for leadership development (~70%).

Conduct small experiments to modify your typical behavior. Apply something that you have learned from online courses or by observing other leaders. For example, if you need to have a difficult conversation with a junior, try an approach you wouldn’t normally follow. Try it and observe the results. Even if it fails, you can always go back on what you already know and move on to the next experiment.

Experimenting is critical to strengthening leadership identity or self-perception as a leader. Over time, acting in new ways will become ingrained in you.

While experimenting is the largest chunk of your time budget, it’s also intertwined with what you do each day, so it’s a good idea to find time to record and reflect. Take notes about what you tried and how it works. If you don’t already, start with a journaling practice to record your thoughts/reflections.

Leadership development should be recognized as an ongoing part of life, and while focusing on it when time allows is great, time is always not available! All it takes to become a better leader is dedication and a small investment of time, consistently 

As always, please share your comments!