Leadership development plans can be a great way to encourage growth in both business and personal situations. They’re infinitely customizable, they can be altered to suit the needs of each individual team member, and all of this can happen without damaging the overall potential impact of the tool. So, let’s start by talking about the tool itself. What is it, and how can it be used to improve business leadership skills and strategies? Read on to find both the answers to these questions, and a step-by-step guide that will assist you in the task of assembling your own plan. Don’t be worried about a lean; the template below will be general enough to be used for either business or personal development.
Table of Contents
What is a Leadership Development Plan?
A leadership development plan is defined as a detailed plan that helps you set your career on a strategic leadership track. Simply put, it’s your vision statement. The goal behind it is to give you the ability to see your current situation in the context of where you would like to be in 3, 5, or 10 years. You wouldn’t open a business without a business plan, and you shouldn’t start your career without a plan either.
Most people choose to simply remember their plan instead of writing it down, but there’s a wealth of data to indicate that path may be less than productive. Harvard University polled all of its graduating seniors in 1976. The question they asked was simple: Did you write down your vision statement? Do you have a plan for how your future will progress?
Ninety-seven percent (97%) of the seniors polled said no. Three percent (3%) answered yes.
Ten years later, Harvard found out that the 3% of the graduates that had written out their leadership development plans were worth more than the other 97% combined.
Imagine what a personal leadership development plan could do for you today.
Leadership Development Plan Examples
Below, you can find a compilation of some of the best leadership development plans available. As they’re presented, we will also go through step by step and explain how to use them to create a plan for yourself.
Step 1: Choose Your Medium. Your development plan is something that you need to be able to review frequently, so the medium you choose is of utmost importance. Are you one of those people that remember things better if you write them by hand? If so, consider setting up your plan on a large poster board or tri-fold board. You can write in the events and goals that are permanent and unlikely to change in a heavy marker, and any events that are likely to be altered can be written on easily removable post-it notes.
If writing something by hand makes you shudder, consider using a program like Office 365 or Evernote to store and edit your plan. These two, specifically, make ideal candidates for this type of application because they can be accessed from anywhere you have an internet connection. That includes your mobile phone, which is an important bonus. Having your plan easily accessible is essential.
Think of it as your daily affirmation. Add those parts of the plan that required you to learn something to your daily routine, and soon; it will become as much a part of you as your own breath or heartbeat.
Step 2: Choose Your Time Period. This should be a period of time no shorter than 3 years that can be easily broken up into smaller periods. This is designed to help you see where you want to be after the period of time has ended.
Do you want to own your own franchise at the end of 5 years? Maybe you want to own a chain of franchises by the end of the next decade. This is the sort of thing you need to think about when choosing your time period.
Step 3: Set your Ultimate Goal. This is sometimes the hardest part of crafting a personal leadership development plan. What is your ultimate goal? Where do you want to be after your time period has ended? Perhaps a better question is where do you see yourself after that time? This, above all else, is what you will be working toward. This is the light at the end of your tunnel and the thing you may find yourself clinging to when time gets tough.
Step 4: Set Stepping Stone Goals.Once you’ve set your ultimate goal, the next step is to set a series of smaller goals that will help you achieve that end. For example:
Ultimate Goal: Own a chain of fast food franchises within 10 years.
Stepping Stone 1: Find a job within one of these preexisting franchises. Time: 3 months.
Stepping Stone 2: Enroll in College for an AA in Business Administration. Time: 1 Month.
Stepping Stone 3: Obtain a promotion within the franchise. Time: Within 1 year.
Stepping Stone 4: Complete accelerated coursework for Business Administration Degree. Time: 18 Months from date of Stepping Stone 2.
This is just a very basic example, but I think you can see where we’re going. Continue repeating the pattern outlined above. Do so until you have a series of steps laid out between today and your ultimate goal. You should note that your actual list of steps should contain much greater detail than our generalized example above. Don’t worry about adding detail from the start though, because, at the beginning, it’s more important to lay out the structure. As you progress, expand upon the goals listed in your outline and fill in the gaps.
The first rule of delineating your goals is to make sure they are realistic and achievable. If you add something to your list that appears to be unattainable, you may find yourself discouraged. Don’t be. Take a second look and see if there’s something you can do to re-word it or break it down into smaller pieces.
Step 5: Mark down your start and projected end dates. This may be unnecessary, but many people find it helpful. If you’re going to start immediately (and you should!), write down today’s date, and then add the prescribed number of years between now and the time period that was previously specified. The other reason an end date is important is to give you some way of evaluating your progress. Even if you have a well thought out timeline, it can be hard to see the end without a definitive date. It’ll feel like you’re staring out into the abyss with no concept of place or time. The date will give you a reference via which to compare your project.
Step 6: Celebrate your Achievements!Once you have reached one of your stepping stone goals, do something nice for yourself. For a short-term goal, treat yourself to a massage or a manicure (depending on your gender). Longer-term goals would obviously merit larger rewards.
Another step you could take would be to add these rewards into your development plan. If you reach a 2-year goal, you buy a new computer. A 5-year goal would merit something like a new car. Don’t skimp on yourself. These are amazing achievements and each one should be celebrated, no matter how small.
Now that you have a good idea how to write your own personal development plan, here is an easy to follow structure for a leadership development plan for use in a professional setting. The main difference here is that the plan should be discussed in detail with the team member in question before it is implemented.
Step 1: Find and Print a Template (Or Create Your Own). For a professional leadership development plan, you’re going to need something that can be easily duplicated for each new candidate. A pre-crafted template that can be saved to a computer and printed at will is one of the easiest ways to handle this. If your office is paper free or you would just rather not handle the paperwork, then a digital format can be equally effective. The only caveat for the digital form is to make sure that the candidate will be able to access the information at any time.
Step 2: Pick a Time Period. In many cases, the time period for a professional plan will be much shorter than a personal one. Many companies create this sort of development plan once a year during an annual evaluation. The expectation then is that the plan you create will have a maximum duration of about 12 months. If the team member has been with the company for a long period of time, feel free to craft a plan that covers a long stretch of time.
Step 3: Pick the Ultimate Goal. Although an internal professional leadership plan will have an entirely different set of goals than a personal plan, the basic template is going to be the same. Pick the ultimate goal that you would like your team member to reach within the allotted period of time. This could be as simple as earning a promotion or as complicated as creating and implementing a new functional protocol for the company.
Step 4: Pick The Stepping Stone Goals. This will not be as comprehensive as stepping stone goals on a personal plan but nevertheless, it is an important step to take. For a period of 12 months, you should attempt to set at least 6 stepping stone goals.
Step 5: Mark down the start and end dates. This step is identical to step 5 on the personal plan. You know how people get excited when their birthday or favorite holiday rolls around. Give their development plan a completion date and you’re certain to see the same sort of excitement.
Step 6: CELEBRATE! While this won’t be as extensive as the rewards for the personal plan, some sort of incentive should be offered for the completion of the leadership plan. A monetary incentive, such as a raise, bonus, or night out on the company is a very popular option.
Leadership Development Plan Template
Now that you have a good idea of how to write your own development plan, we’ve included an easy to follow template that can also be edited or altered as needed.
TemplateVision Statement ________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________
|Goal||Prerequisites or Needed Resources||Time to Complete||Incentive or Reward|
Picking a single goal and working toward it can be a great way to help you lose 10 pounds or save that last $50 for your new video game console, but when it comes to your career, that just isn’t enough.
Craft your vision statement, develop a concrete plan to achieve it, and follow it to your future.