How to create a leadership development plan that works for your organisation

Organisations that are looking to build long-term, sustainable success need to have a coherent and deliverable leadership development plan in place. By investing in the development of their leaders, organisations can foster a culture of growth, innovation, and collaboration that can help them to stay ahead of the curve and achieve sustained success.

It takes careful planning if any investment in leadership development is to achieve its maximum potential. Frequently, leadership development will have to compete with other priorities within an organisation for valuable resources. A coherent plan can help build the case for investment in effective leadership development programmes.

What is a leadership development plan, what should it include and how do you go about creating an effective plan for your organisation?

what is a leadership development plan

What does a leadership development plan look like?

A leadership development plan provides a structured approach to identify, nurture and develop talent across the organisation. It will involve creating a coherent roadmap for the development of current and future leaders, taking into account the specific needs, goals and objectives of the business over the medium to long term. It will build the case for investment in leadership development, before setting out what that development will look like in practical terms.


What should a leadership development plan include?

Every leadership development plan will reflect the organisation that produced it but will usually contain a number of key components.

Firstly, it will assess the current state of leadership talent within the organisation. This will include an assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the current leadership team, as well as the leadership potential of employees at all levels within the organisation. It will identify the current process through which future leaders are identified and developed and will assess how effective the organisation is at nurturing future talent.

Secondly, the plan should set out some clear goals and objectives. This involves defining the specific outcomes the organisation wants to achieve through its leadership development programme. These goals may include improving employee engagement, increasing productivity, and boosting overall organisational performance.

Once goals have been identified and clearly set out, you can then begin to develop a leadership development programme that is tailored to the specific needs and goals of the organisation. Working with experienced leadership development professionals, such as Leadership Success, can help to ensure that your programme is effective, your goals are met and that you enjoy a good return on investment.

Any leadership development plan should also include key metrics by which the success of the programme will ultimately be measured. These metrics may include improvements in employee engagement, increases in productivity, and the identification and development of high-potential employees.

The next step is to implement the programme within your organisation. This involves rolling out the leadership development programme and ensuring that all employees are aware of its goals, activities, and benefits. Individuals should be invited to participate and the programme should be embedded into the life of the organisation going forward. The plan should set out how this will be achieved.

Finally, keeping in mind the key metrics and feedback from participants, ongoing evaluation of the leadership development programme will be essential. This will ensure that it continues to meet the intended goals and that any necessary adjustments are made. The plan will set out how this evaluation will be carried out.


What are the five components of a leadership development plan?

A leadership development plan will typically feature five key components.

The first step in creating a leadership development plan is to assess the potential of employees who may be suited for leadership roles. This can be done through assessments such as personality tests, skill inventories, and 360-degree feedback.

Once potential leaders have been identified, the next step is to identify their development needs. This may involve reviewing performance reviews, discussing goals and aspirations, and conducting interviews to understand the areas where each individual needs to grow.

Based on the assessment and identification of development needs, a customised development plan should be created for each individual. This plan should include specific learning objectives, strategies for achieving those objectives, and timelines for progress.

Development plans should outline the opportunities for growth, such as leadership development programmes and other learning opportunities.  

Finally, it's important to regularly measure progress against the development plan. This can be done through performance reviews, regular check-ins, and assessments of specific skills and competencies. By measuring progress, leaders can identify areas where they need to focus their efforts and adjust their development plans as needed.


What are the three most important areas of development for you professionally?

While the areas of development identified by individuals undertaking leadership development will differ, it’s important that an organisational leadership development plan identifies and outlines key areas of development across the business as a whole.

When developing any leadership development plan an organisation will want to consider the aspects of leadership that they would like to focus on across their organisation. To do this they may first wish to conduct a leadership skills assessment. This looks at the existing leadership skills within the organisation and the strengths and weaknesses of the current leadership team. This can be done through a combination of surveys, interviews, and performance evaluations.

It’s also important to listen to stakeholders, such as employees, customers, suppliers, and investors to identify areas where it’s felt skills may be lacking.

Organisations also need to consider broader industry trends and challenges to identify some of the leadership skills that may be most critical for success in the future. This means staying informed, attending industry events and keeping up to date with relevant industry publications and news.

The strategic objectives of the organisation overall will also be a key consideration. By reviewing your mission, vision, and values, you will able to access how far the current leadership skill set matches your ambition. It can also help you identify the skills you will need and the kind of leadership required to help you fulfil your wider objectives.

After this has been completed, you can then prioritise the most important areas of leadership development for your organisation. These three principal areas of leadership development should be the ones that you believe will have the greatest impact on achieving organisational goals. These areas can then be prioritised in the leadership development plan, along with specific goals, strategies, and timelines for achieving them.

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What are the nine steps to creating a leadership development plan?

By providing a roadmap for enhancing leadership capabilities and competencies, a well-designed leadership development plan can help organisations build a pipeline of talented and capable leaders who are equipped to meet the challenges of a rapidly changing business environment.

 Here are nine key steps that organisations can follow to create a leadership development plan that is tailored to their specific needs and objectives:


Step 1: Define the purpose and objectives of the plan.

You should begin by setting out the purpose and objectives of the leadership development plan. What are the outcomes you hope to achieve and who is the target audience for the plan? In many cases, the leadership development plan will both create a roadmap for leadership development across the organisation and support the business case for doing so.


Step 2: Review your current leadership capabilities.

To understand where you need to go you first need to understand where you are. Conduct a comprehensive assessment of the current leadership capabilities within the organisation, identifying gaps and areas of strength. This should be as honest as possible and be reviewed against the strategic aims and objectives of your organisation.


Step 3: Identify the leadership skills and competencies you hope to develop

Based on your understanding of your current leadership capabilities, what skills and competencies does your organisation need to develop to better achieve your strategic aims and objectives? In most cases, this will mean focusing on areas where you’ve identified current deficiencies.


Step 4: Determine methods to be used.

Determine the development methods and activities that will be used to enhance leadership capabilities. Structured, bespoke leadership development programmes that match the needs, goals and objectives of your organisation are more likely to deliver results.

You will also need to consider what professional services you may use to help you reach your leadership development goals. Leadership Success creates leadership development programmes that are completely tailored to each individual requirement and led by expert coaches with decades of experience in leadership roles across a wide range of industries.


Step 5: Determining your budget

Your plan should set out the budget you have available for leadership development and how it will be spent. This needs to be realistic both in terms of what is affordable for the organisation and what will be required to achieve the goals and objectives that you have identified.


Step 6: Set out roles and responsibilities

The leadership development should set out who will be responsible for various aspects of its delivery. It should detail who will be implementing and overseeing the leadership development plan, including senior leaders, HR professionals, and external consultants and agencies.


Step 7: Establish a timeline

Develop a timeline for the leadership development plan, including milestones, deadlines, and progress reviews. This should be realistic and reflect the extent and ambition of the goals outlined in the plan. It’s important to remember that leadership development is an ongoing process rather than a one-off event and the full benefits of the plan may not be apparent until the medium to long term.


Step 8: Evaluate the effectiveness of the plan

The leadership development plan should set out the metrics that will be used to measure the success of your leadership development programme. This should include business outcomes and the return on investment at various stages of its implementation.


Step 9: Continuous improvements

A leadership development plan is a living document that can be reviewed and revised. From your early and ongoing evaluations, you can identify areas where improvements need to be made. Your aim should be to ensure that your leadership development plan is effective and relevant over time.


What are leadership goals examples?

Leadership goals are objectives that leaders set for themselves and their teams to achieve in order to enhance their leadership skills and effectiveness. Some examples might include improving communication skills, developing a growth mindset, fostering a culture of innovation, building a high-performing team and developing strategic thinking skills.


How do you write a leadership development goal?

Leadership goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) to ensure that they are effective in driving progress and achieving results.

Firstly, identify the specific leadership skill or competency that you want to develop. This could be a skill that you have identified as a gap in your current abilities or a skill that you want to improve across your organisation.

Once you have identified the skill you want to develop, be sure to make the goal measurable. This will help you track your progress and determine whether the goals have been achieved. It’s important to make sure that your leadership development goal is achievable given the current leadership skills within the organisation, resources, and time constraints.

Be realistic in setting your goal to avoid setting yourself up for failure and inadvertently undermining the case for leadership development. Your leadership development goal should be aligned with the goals, objectives and needs of your organisation.

The goal should also have a timeline to help key people engaged with its delivery stay focused and motivated. You can set a specific deadline for achieving your goal or break it down into smaller milestones to track your progress along the way.

Finally, write a clear and concise statement of your leadership development goal, including the skill or competency you want to develop, how you will measure progress, and the timeframe for achieving your goal. Make sure the statement is specific and easy to understand.

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Planning for your future success

Leadership development is a continuous and long-term process that nurtures a work culture that values self-improvement and openness to change. As individuals within the organisation undergo leadership training, the overall organisational culture shifts towards increased productivity, ambition, and innovation. This cultural transformation can positively impact your future growth and development.

Contact us to find out more about how you can take practical steps to the ongoing success of your organisation with leadership development

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