A part of every leader wants to believe that if you are good enough or work hard enough you can do anything. However most of us lead in the real world. Because we lead in the real world there is at least one very important thing no leader can do. You can't develop a person who doesn't want to be helped !

Developing our people is obviously one of the most important things we do as leaders, so this can be a very hard reality to face. This concept comes to us from the field of psychology. Almost any counselor will tell you that all their training and experience is wasted on someone who does not want help ! Even when a client is court ordered into counseling, unless that client is willing to participate in the process they are just spinning their wheels.

It works the same way when we as leaders are trying to grow our people. Our people have to be at the very least open minded, and willing to listen or it just doesn't matter how good a leader or trainer we are it just won't work.

Many things can lead to this situation or make it worse. Maybe the team member involved doesn't trust your competence in the area in question. There may be left over hard feelings from the way you were selected for your position. They may even have other issues going on in their world that prevent them from engaging in their own development process. Some team members may be happy where they are, and not interested in advancing. If they are happy with that, it is at least a somewhat legitimate response.

The trick is to find accurate information about the root cause of the situation. Are you new to your position ? Are they new to theirs ? Have there been recent changes in your organization that could be having an impact ? Like all problems, you can't effectively deal with this unless you know the real cause.

Once you get at the cause what do you do then ? If drawing on your experience comes up empty, try calling upon another leader in your organization or industry for advice. If appropriate consult your organization's Employee Assistance Program. It is possible that without breaking the confidentiality that you both must protect that the EAP professionals can get you on track.

Always be looking for training opportunities ! It could be that they lack confidence in their existing skills. If so you may want to arrange refresher training on those skills before moving on. Even better see if you can identify even a small group needing the same refresher. By arranging it as a group session you can avoid unwanted focus on a single individual.

The inability or unwillingness of a team member to participate in the development process can be a serious issue. It can hold all or part of your organization back. It can limit the progress of others on your team. In some cases it can even lead to termination of the team member involved. This is one challenge that you won't always master. But before you give up on yourself, or them, give some of these ideas a try !

Author's Bio: 

Robert A. Crutchfield is a Leadership Coach and Minister based in Katy, Texas outside of Houston. He is a veteran of several boards and advisory boards primarily in non-profit and governmental environments. He also has leadership experience as a non-commissioned officer in the Texas State Guard,Lead Tech in a PC support call center, a "Key Holder" in retail and others. Learn more about him at https://clarity.fm/robertcrutchfield or on Twitter: @CrutchfieldOn