Creating a Leadership Development Plan

Posted by: Nigel Girling Post Date: 1st April 2015

In many organisations, a professional HR function has regulated the process of creating a leadership development plan (often, to within an inch of its life). This often means the task is approached as a cyclic, administrative process, more concerned with compliance and timely completion than with the quality of the thinking and planning contained within.

If this sounds even a little bit like your situation, I urge you to stop and take a step back.

Creating a Leadership Development Plan

Why is a leadership development plan necessary?

So, why is a leadership development plan desirable, even essential, to good leadership and good performance? With the challenging and ever-changing nature of 21st century leadership, chances are that the skills and knowledge that got you to your position are very different to the ones you need today – and certainly different to the ones you’re going to need soon.

If you are operating at a senior level, you are probably wrestling with a number of strategic challenges, and facing an uncertain future. Indeed, if you think you are not then I suggest you think again….

Many renowned thinkers in the field of leadership now take the view that formalised leadership development is no longer the place to start, and that development needs to take place on the move and in real-time. While I agree in theory, my practical experience has been that most leaders need the ‘spine’ to their development journey that a leadership programme provides; one that triggers their thinking in a number of areas and exposes them to other ways of thinking, behaving and leading. This could mean undertaking a formal qualification, or even a series of mentoring sessions. You’ll know which fits best with your style and context.

Create your own leadership development plan

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What does a leadership development plan look like?

When creating a leadership development plan, start by considering the following:

  • What is the organisation seeking to achieve in the next few years?
  • How can/should I contribute?
  • What do I need to STOP doing, START doing or CONTINUE doing to support that journey?
  • What skills and knowledge will become more or less important?
  • How will I ensure that my development journey gets my frequent attention, and isn’t overtaken by the urgent demands of the daily role?
  • How will I gain exposure to other leaders, other perspectives and other ways of doing things?
  • How will I know if it is working?

Don’t worry about format, and you don’t need a template – it’s the quality of the thinking that matters. I’d rather you scribbled 100 heartfelt words of deep significance on a restaurant menu than complete a 20 page report that gets filed away in a dusty room.

This is serious. Give it your undivided attention, because you’re worth it. Aren’t you?

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