leadership development environment

What Makes A Great Leadership Development Environment?

A short while ago I facilitated Pipeline for the last time. Pipeline is a weekly leadership development environment where leaders of all ages (17 – 50+) gather together once a week at a mutual time of their choosing to develop their leadership. It began three years ago when the church invited a handful of leaders and I to carve out some time to discuss leadership and all of its challenges, seeking to learn from each other and external, wider leadership thought.

It’s been an amazing journey which has seen leaders from the church, government, small business and social enterprise gather together to sharpen each other’s ability to steward their influence effectively in a God honouring way. At times there have been 5 of us, and at other times 30 of us. The environment has been facilitated by a handful of different leaders who each bring their flavour to it. We were fortunate enough to host some wonderful and very different guests from missionary church planters in Cambodia to the CEO of the Commonwealth Games in Australia.

When we met, for what would be my final time facilitating that environment, and reflected on what God has taught us about leadership I realised just how powerful and valuable it is for every leader to plant themselves in an environment that enables you to not only grow but be exposed to thinking different from your own. It doesn’t matter what form this takes but there is incredible value in finding an environment where you can develop you’re ability to think like a leader.

This caused me to identify 6 factors my experience of Pipeline has taught me are important to look for when establishing yourself in or creating a leadership development environment.


1. People who think about the world differently. A healthy and vibrant leadership development environment is comprised of people who have different opinions to each other and are free to share them.

2. People who lead in different contexts. Everyone’s world will become so much bigger when they see how others lead and think in different contexts.

3. People of a wide age range. The passion of youth and the wisdom of age creates beautiful results when brought together.

4. People with the same heart as you. It’s important to have people in that environment who value both learning and the form the environment takes.

5. External conversation partners. This might be a guest invited in but could also be material you commit to reading as a group, watching a video together, pre-listening to a podcast and then discussing it, exploring a different environment, evaluating it and coming back together to share your learning, etc.

6. Leaders. If a person is leading something, then a leadership development environment will enhance their leadership experience as well as create a context for their learning to be tested out and explored.

What happens in this leadership development environment can vary wildly from week to week, and how people learn and how they might be challenged to learn can also vary greatly. Ensuring, however, that these 6 factors inform your gathering, will promote everyone’s learning, reflection and ability to lead others.


An effective leadership development environment can be the most replenishing and inspiring place a leader engages with.

Everyone has something to offer, and giving people opportunity and permission to share it, will deeply enrich others.

What does your current leadership development environment look like?

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