8 Steps to Creating a Personal Leadership Development Plan

Posted by Patrick Lynch on January 20, 2016
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thunderbird_leadership_development.jpgThere’s an oft-used expression about not being able to drain the swamp because you’re too busy fighting off the alligators. You may feel that trying to develop, implement or follow a personal leadership development plan fits into the same category. When you are a leader, you are involved in getting things done. That usually means it’s very hard to invest any time or energy into longer-term objectives for yourself. 

The reality is, however, that ensuring such plans and programs are in place is a core responsibility of up-and-coming leaders, as well as established ones. The fact that so many organizations and corporations collapse or wander into mediocrity after a strong leader departs provides ample evidence of how often this responsibility is ignored.

Research shows that that only 36 percent of surveyed companies felt they were adequately prepared to fill their needed leadership positions. This is of special concern today, as the largest number of the current Baby Boomer generation will be moving on from their many leadership positions over the next decade.

The current and looming shortage of solid leadership talent has created a new focus on the importance of the personal leadership development plan. This issue can be seen from three different perspectives: 

  • If you aspire to a leadership position, but are not currently in that role, focus on your own personal leadership development plan on the basic skills and knowledge you will need.
  • If you are currently in a management and leadership position, you should be investing time and effort to ensure you continue to develop your own skills. On-the-job experience is considered the most effective leadership development process, and it is more effective if you approach it as such
  • If you are responsible for identifying and developing talent and future leaders for your organization, you must ensure that every such prospective leader is following their own personalized leadership development plan.

If you fall into the category where you are aspiring to obtain a leadership position or are looking to gain an even more, substantial leadership position, there are steps you can take that will help you on your journey. 

Define what makes a great leader - The best way to make a leadership development plan is to draw inspiration from today's great leaders. To start, make a list of leadership skills that you think make up the traits, competencies, abilities, and experience of a good leader.

Time for self-assessment - Next you want to identify your core leadership characteristics. These are personality traits like "fearless," "observant," or "introverted.A few of them should be specific to your work environment.

Determine your core values - Now that you've identified your core leadership characteristics it’s time to list your core values. Core values are the principles you use to make decisions and define integrity and ethics. They are the things that help you weigh choices in life, and are typically unwavering.

Write a personal vision statement - Now that you have your core leadership characteristics and values you can use them to create your personal vision statement. Writing a personal vision statement offers the opportunity to establish what’s important to you and can help enable you to chart a new course when you're at a career crossroads or even just beginning in your career.

Analyze what others think of you - After spending some time in self-reflection, it’s time to ask yourself what other people - your peers, bosses, and those you already lead- think about your leadership style and capabilities.  

Identify your current leadership skills and where there is room for improvement - In this step, you should identify the skills and traits you currently possess and then identify gaps where there may be room for improvement. 

Set goals - From the skills and traits list above you can pinpoint two or three areas where you can improve. If you found that you there is room for improvement  in communication style or knowledge of different cultures then you can leadership development goals to help you reach your goals.  

Write an action plan - 
You have your goals. Now it's time to make an action plan for achieving them.The action plan lays out the specific steps you’ll take, resources you’ll use, and the support system you’ll build to reach your stretch. 

Once you complete a goal it's time to start again. As with all the above elements in the plan, you will want to revisit them so that the plan continues to help you grow in your leadership role. Want to learn how to be an even more, effective leader?  Download our eBook, 5 Simple Tips to Thrive in a VUCA World, below, and don't miss out on Thunderbird's new Transformational Global Leadership Journey. 

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Topics: leadership