A trustworthy and effective leader is a truly invaluable asset to a company. I mean, think about the impact leadership has on your experiences; the decisions we make, how inspired we are, and how likely we are to stick with a company can all be greatly influenced by the type of leaders we have in our arsenal. So, of course, every company wants positive-impact leaders who positively contribute to the work environment; but, those leaders aren’t just made overnight. Not only that, but good leaders are important at every level of your organization, and while 83% of organizations agree, only 5% of businesseshave implemented leadership development at all levels.
Great organizations helpcreateamazing leaders throughout the entire organization, meaning that every employee can display admirable leadership skills no matter their job or title. This is why it’s so essential to incorporate a leadership development plan that cultivates great leaders instilled with the best values and principles. Let’s talk about it!
What is a Leadership Development Plan
A leadership development plan is a long-term business strategy that is designed to improve leadership skills and prepare employees for different leadership roles. Leadership competencies, such as consideration, empathy, and listening skills, are important to develop and encourage in the workplace so that future leaders have the skills and resources to take on new challenges and guide others to success.
Because leadership can be relatively subjective, not everyone is going to have the same leadership tendencies or styles; that’s why plans are personalized and vary in length of time depending on the person.
Why it’s Important to Create a Leadership Development Plan
There are a lot of benefits to having a leadership development plan in place for employees, but here are some of the driving principles.
- Keeps employees engaged.Leadership development can seriously impact employee engagement at your company. Sixty-nine percentof employees stated that they would be willing to work harder if their efforts were appreciated more, so leaders who are trained to communicate and recognize employees can directly affect engagement.
- Provides a plan for business continuity as your business grows.You want everyone in your company to positively contribute to the culture and values of your brand, but it always starts with leadership. Then, the more employees who lead out and exhibit those values, the more effective and healthy your work environment will be, which also means your work and brand will be more unified and consistent.
- Develops talent for your organization.Everyone needs opportunities to grow and advance in their career, both when it comes to advancements in pay or position, or developing more skills to be more competitive as an expert in their field. (This is key to employee retention, by the way.) Encouraging leadership at an individual level can make a serious difference here!
7 Steps To Create Your Leadership Development Plan
Okay, we’ve talked about how important it is to have a leadership development plan in place, the crazy-amazing improvements it can make for your organization, the undeniablebenefits it has with employee engagement and retention…we could go on and on. But now, let’s get into the meat of it all: how to create your leadership development plan.
- Assess Talent
Your first step of a leadership development plan is to identify the strengths and shortcomings of each individual in your organization. This will help you better understand where each person excels and where they need support.
When assessing talent, remember that people are a combination of strengths and weaknesses. No one is perfect, so don’t try to label a person (or yourself) as “having it all” or “not leadership material,” because that’s just bogus—everyonecan be a leader. Instead, try to identify where people need a little extra support in their area of difficulty. From there, you’ll be able to create a plan of action to help strengthen the areas of weakness in each person’s skill set.
Some examples of areas of focus may be building inclusion and wellbeing, or boosting retention and productivitythrough leadership skills. See what existing experience people possess and work from that point!
- Determine Leadership Style
Next, a leadership development plan should help you determine which leadership style fits your strengths. Again, there are a variety of leaders, all with different initial skills and priorities.
As an example of a leadership development plan, think about your natural leadership skills. Perhaps you aren’t initially very outgoing, but you are considerably empathetic and are a great listener. You may not need as much training or practice in those competencies, but you may need to work out team development and iron out the social influence you’d like to have.
Your personal development plan for leadership may help you be more outgoing, but your leadership style may also be to focus on one-on-one communication, and there are roles where you would certainly excel. The key is to determine where your style fits into the organization and find out the best ways you can participate and help those around you. Remember: an organization’s values will also impact the type of leader you will be, so a good place to start with your leadership development plan is looking at the kind of leadership that will flourish in your workplace.
- Determine Goals
Individuals need to determine the goals they have for their own development and make sure that those goals are attainable. It’s often best to have one large priority with incremental objectives that help you achieve the ultimate goal of your leadership development plan.
What is the ultimate goal of your organization? Organizational developmentwill impact the kind of goals individuals and teams make when developing as leaders, too, so this should be incorporated into the goal-setting process of your leadership development plan.
- Set Timeline
In addition to setting goals, you’ll also need to set a timeline for the overall vision and the individual goals. When setting a timeline, make sure that your goals can realistically be accomplished during that period. You don’t want to create a timeline that is too aggressive, as that will only lead to frustration. The timeline should, however, be aggressive enough to challenge you and your team without making people feel like they are constantly behind. When creating a timeline, you want to be sure to include time for reflection and training, not just performance. A leadership development plan timeline ultimately helps people remain accountable to the goals they set!
- Identify Development Strategy
Now that you have goals based on your strengths and weaknesses, plus a realistic timeline, it’s time to choose the best development method. There are many ways you can practice and develop those leadership skills you want, such as:
- Self-paced learning
- Job shadowing
- Educational courses
- Professional certifications
HR management can facilitate trainings, shadowing, mentorship, and other programs that other leaders can help with. There are also endless courses and certificates online that HR can help individuals find and engage with to jumpstart their leadership development plan.
- Begin Training
After all the planning, the only thing left is to start the training for your leadership development plan! Don’t be afraid to start training in a low-risk environment so you can make adjustments as needed. Very rarely do we nail the perfect setup on the first try, so remember that creating effective trainings will be a process!
- Revisit Frequently
Finally, don’t get too stuck on one set of goals or one way of building those leadership skills. Revisit your leadership development plan frequently, ensure that you are keeping up with your timeline to meet goals, and always be willing to reevaluate your timeline and goals often to match your progress.
Leadership and Wellness with Gympass
As a leader yourself, you know the importance of leadership development plans in your business—after all, if you want the best for your employees, you also want them to have access to growth and personal development opportunities. This is just one aspect of an employee’s wellbeing, but there are many influences on the health and satisfaction of your workforce. Talk to a wellbeing specialistto learn about more exciting resources you can provide for your organization!
The Gympass Editorial Team empowers HR leaders to support worker wellbeing. Our original research, trend analyses, and helpful how-tos provide the tools they need to improve workforce wellness in today's fast-shifting professional landscape.