Paul Terry speaking at #sawacon

Your Role in Developing Your Leadership Team

Within a packed room of animal welfare leaders, Paul Terry, SPHR, ACC, delivered his SAWA session, “Your Role in Developing Your Leadership Team.” Terry, an ESTJ from Boulder, Colorado, founded his firm, Paul Terry Consulting Group, in 2013 after 20 years in corporate HR.

Terry started by describing his very first day in a leadership role at Exxon in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. On his first day on the job, an employee who the day prior “seemed just fine” came into his office frustrated and overwhelmed. Terry asked her to go write a list of her priorities and tasks. However, she left more frustrated and more overwhelmed. Terry realized he was listening to his team member at the surface level and hadn’t tried to truly understand what was causing her frustration.

“When trying to understand team members’ challenges, pay attention to what’s beneath the tip of the iceberg.”

“What are your most pressing people questions?”

Terry asked the group to pair up and answer the question, and the attendees shared struggles with capacity, communication issues, lack of developed leaders, resistance to change, skills and training, compensation issues, generation differences and more.

He then shared a 2011 SHRM in which leaders reported developing talent as their top issue in human resources.

Leaders Must Be Able to Have an “Enterprise” Leadership View

Terry described “enterprise” as leaders who:

  • Push out support and pull in information
  • Facilitate more than direct
  • Realize they don’t know everything
  • Understand a large part of their role is to help solve problems
  • Work very well with their peers
  • View their team as all being “in it together”
  • Look at the broader picture and anticipate trends

“Teams that are led by enterprise leaders are 23% more likely to be highly innovative, and 15% more likely to come up with new ideas and generate solutions to new or unanticipated problems.”

Your Role in Developing Your Team

Terry offered three core lessons for leaders to adopt:

  • Embrace the fundamental responsibility that developing others is core to your role
  • Apply the six coaching behaviors
    • Reserve the time
    • Show genuine interest
    • Ask insightful, open-ended questions
    • Listen carefully
    • Share feedback thoughtfully
    • Be a resource
  • Use multiple development methods to help people grow

There are two general coaching strategies: expert (tell) vs discovery (ask)

In the expert approach, we provide advice, teach others and solve problems. We often do this because it feels faster, we’re able to dictate that things get done the way we want them and frankly, it’s what we’re used to.

In the ask approach, we withhold judgment or advice, let others learn and make connections from their insights and create their own solutions.

Terry says, “If the building is on fire, use the expert approach. But it you want to develop enterprise leaders on your team, you must use the discovery approach.”

Emotional intelligence is at the core of effective leadership.

In the ask approach, we listen and guide, rather than tell. We ask insightful, open-ended questions to understand how our team members are doing and to help them solve problems. Terry shared a long list of example questions that included:

  • How will you find out?
  • What’s important to you?
  • What would be a win for you?
  • What did you learn?
  • What would it take to change that?

Following curiosity is at the core of good coaching.

Use Multiple Development Approaches

Terry described how different development approaches are more impactful at different points in team members’ careers. Early in our careers, training and education programs are critical, but over time, on-the-job leadership experiences become the most impactful.

His recommended breakdown on where development time should be spent:
10% – Formal/Self-Directed includes training, study, conferences, formal education and reading books
20% – Feedback/Coaching includes receiving coaching and mentoring, networking and feedback from peers and coaches
70% – On-the-Job Experiences helps us learn to stretch and rotate assignments, focus on special projects, work on task forces and serve in cross-functional roles

Terry ended with two quotes:

“To help others develop, start with yourself! When the boss acts like a little god and tells everyone else they need to improve, that behavior can be copied at every level of management. Every level then points out how the level below it needs to change. The end result: No one gets much better.”
– Marshall Goldsmith

“Do you understand that it’s your team’s accomplishments and what they do because of you, not for you, that will generate your mark as a leader?”
Nancy Badore (as quoted by Keith Ferrazzi in Never Eat Alone)
Mr. Terry has over 20 years experience helping organizations align their business strategy with their people practices and systems. He works with leaders around the globe to develop their team management and strategic leadership skills. You can reach him on Twitter, @pterry91.


This article was written live during the 2015 Annual Society of Animal Welfare Administrators Conference. This post reflects our bloggers’ understanding of the session and the materials shared by presenters.


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