In order to be the most productive organization in your industry, you need exemplary leaders. In the fast-past and unpredictable business world, leaders have to think about both the organization’s goals and the needs and goals of the employees they oversee. This is a lot to ask, and it’s why every organization needs a great leadership development plan.
What is a Leadership Development Plan?
A leadership development plan is a map for how the management in your company will develop and build leadership qualities and skills. This map should include time frames for when specific skills and qualities should be mastered and should also include the methods that will be used for learning these things.
The most significant reason to have a leadership development plan is to remove any confusion about what kind of leader your team needs. Everyone has a different definition of what it means to lead. Some people think the best managers are assertive and stern, keeping everyone on schedule. Others think that managers should be friendly and motivating. By creating a plan for how you’ll help leaders develop, you ensure that your team has the kind of leader that your organization needs specifically.
Why is Leadership Development Plan Important?
Leadership is a very complex topic. There are many opinions and schools of thought about what leaders should look like. Your plan helps define what leadership should be within your organization. But there are three other important reasons to have a leadership development plan:
- Leadership development plans help make goals achievable. It is a big goal to become a great leader. There are many steps involved and many skills to master. Creating a map that can be followed for this process gives leaders the motivation to accomplish the goal. With specific and attainable targets, it’s easy to monitor how managers are growing.
- These plans help uncover blind spots to work on during the process. Every leader needs to know where they have strengths and weaknesses. As they go through the development process, they will uncover what areas they need to improve.
- These plans make the path to becoming a leader crystal clear. There is no need for employees to wonder how they can advance to management when you have a map already created. Everyone has a transparent view of what it takes to become a leader in your organization, which can be motivating.
How to Create an Effective Leadership Development Plan
When you are considering evaluating an employee for leadership potential, the best thing you can do is have your development plan already in place. That way, you can determine where on the plan the employee should start. Here’s how you can begin developing an effective plan today.
- Identify the goals you have for leadership. Remember, everyone defines what a leader is differently. Be sure that you know exactly what you need out of your management team so that you can describe what a leader is to the organization. Use “SMART” goals to ensure that the leadership development plan is specific, measurable, attainable, relevant to your organization, and bound by specific time-based targets.
- Think about what kinds of leaders you want your management team to emulate. Who are leaders that you admire? What do you admire about them? Use these answers to help create the goals for your plan.
- Use assessments to determine where you or your employees already are professionally. You need to understand where your current leadership already has strengths and where the team could grow. Assessments that help you identify your motivations and limitations will help you understand your own leadership style, which is an excellent place to start.
- Break the goals you set in step one into bite-sized tasks that are easy to accomplish. If a leadership development plan encompasses how you want the leadership to be in five years, break those goals down into six-month targets.
- Choose how you will offer leadership training. You may need to use an LMS to empower your employees to pursue independent study. You may need to send employees to leadership training events. You may need to create a mentoring program for senior leaders to coach employees as they move up into management. There are many ways to ensure this training happens.
- Don’t forget to focus on soft skills as well. Leaders have to have high emotional intelligence to succeed. It’s vital that your leadership development plan include training in communication, evaluation, planning, and other soft skills.
- Reach out to your network. If you have a network of business leaders, reach out and discuss their leadership development plans. You can often find great mentors or ideas for your own plan from those who have already written their guidelines.
- Finally, write it all down. Using what you’ve developed in these steps, write down your leadership development plan. Use this plan any time you are ready to promote a new manager or when you need to improve your leadership skills.
How to Execute Your Leadership Development Plan
Now that you have a plan, it’s time to execute. As you begin working through the training, mentoring, and other activities outlined in the plan, be sure to perform regular assessments. It’s crucial to track progress for many reasons.
It can help motivate you or the employee going through the training. It also helps you keep an eye on the progress of your management team so that you can address any weaknesses before they become actual problems. Finally, regular assessments help you avoid losing momentum when the organization faces a busy season.
Remember that this plan can be executed for any employee at any stage of their career. Even an executive-level leader may wish to improve their skills.
Developing your leadership plan is one of the best ways to maintain a great company culture. With expert leaders in place, you will have fewer problems with unmotivated employees and high churn rates. Instead, you will have efficient teams working happily with leaders who genuinely connect to the organization’s objectives.