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How do you know it's time to do leadership development?

The short answer is it's always time. Developing our leadership is a journey, not a destination. Improving our self-awareness and becoming truly effective takes consistent focus. Here are some clues to watch for on your journey to help stay focused:

If you're feeling like some honest and respectful feedback it might be time for leadership development!

Feedback is the breakfast of champions. Getting meaningful information from trusted colleagues can provide great clues to areas our blind spots reside. It's in these areas growth can happen. If you're interested in being the best version of yourself, listen, learn, and apply.

If you're feeling stuck it might be time for leadership development!

Falling short of your goals or team results is another clue that a new focus is needed. Getting back in touch with core values and human skills can lead to progress.

If your organization is experiencing some change it might be time for leadership development!

With any big change comes the need for self-reflection to adjust and adapt our leadership to help the team achieve new goals.

If you're taking on new responsibilities it might be time for leadership development!

Volunteering or being selected for a new role can provide the opportunity for personal growth. Lean into the pressure of the new situation. The pressure you're feeling is a privilege.

If you're feeling some internal motivation it might be time for leadership development!

When questions and curiosities come, lean into them. It's a sure sign you're ready for increased self-awareness of how to be more effective as a leader.

What would happen if we thought about leadership development as a habit?

Think about the things you do every day. If your activities include pursuing interests and curiosities, determine how they help your personal growth and leadership. As with any habit, it can be positive or negative. It takes about 90 repetitions to create a habit, make sure they are supporting the person you really want to be. Building positive learning routines takes practice and commitment.


People experience who we are through our behaviors. Aligning our saying and doing is paramount for showing our trustworthiness to others.

Better Every Day

A growth mindset is a great example to team members. The humility to admit we can change is powerfully influential. If you're after sustained excellence, the only way to get there is through daily integration.

Success Partner

We can't be all we can be unless those around us are all they can be. If we see team members as competitors it destroys collaboration. We rise by lifting others.

Team Health

Leadership development is for everyone. Our learning and practice create a sense of need for others to do the same. It allows for necessary vulnerability so creativity and imagination can drive team adaptability.

Coaching Culture

Aligning our intentions to help more and judge less goes a long way in supporting a positive team culture. Showing appreciation for others recognizes the unique qualities each person brings and helps celebrate teamwork.

If leadership is defined by the influence we have on those around us then it follows that it should be supported by constant focus. What we do know is that we wait too long to train leadership skills. In some cases more than 10 years. We also know it's often too subjective in who is selected. If we all have influence then it shouldn't just be only for β€œtop” performers. Lastly, the impact leadership has on our overall health and well-being through our boss, supervisor, or manager is more important than our primary care Doctor. These provide the evidence we should embed leadership development into our daily approach to help ourselves and others become the best version of themselves possible...and we shouldn't wait to do that!

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About the Extension Foundation

The Extension Foundation was formed in 2006 by Extension Directors and Administrators. Today, the Foundation partners with Cooperative Extension through liaison roles and a formal plan of work with the Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP) to increase system capacity while providing programmatic services, and helping Extension programs scale and investigate new methods and models for implementing programs. The Foundation provides professional development to Cooperative Extension professionals and offers exclusive services to its members. In 2020 and 2021, the Extension Foundation has awarded 85% of its direct funding back to the Cooperative Extension System, 100% of funds are used to support Cooperative Extension initiatives. 

This technology is supported in part by New Technologies for Ag Extension (funding opportunity no. USDA-NIFA-OP-010186), grant no. 2023-41595-41325 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture or the Extension Foundation. For more information, please visit You can view the terms of useat

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