Leaders play a critical role in every industry and at every company. Not only do they manage teams but they are responsible for making difficult decisions that can guide the company in the right direction. Even though leaders are often associated with being high-up at the company, in reality, leadership skills can come from a variety of job titles and roles within the organization. At Cultivate Advisors, our personal leadership development consultants are happy to work with you to put together a customized plan based on your unique needs. Read more to see how we can help below.
What Is Leadership Development?
Leadership development is how you strive to improve leadership skills and competencies through strategic activities. In a leadership development program, staff across levels are taught important leadership qualities that help them lead and inspire their teams. A successful leadership development plan takes on many forms such as on or off-site training, conferences, graduate programs, training seminars, online training, and more. The goal of leadership development is to outline the steps that an organization will take to help both the staff and the company reach its maximum potential.
Benefits of a Personal Leadership Development
Having a leadership development plan will directly benefit your business in a multitude of ways:
- It helps the business achieve better results: Personal and professional relationships thrive which helps reach higher financial performance and consistent achievement within your company.
- Skilled leaders are more agile: Companies that nurture leadership skills can more easily navigate today’s complex business environment and better solve problems.
- Strong leadership is helpful in innovation: Business leaders that are part of an ongoing leadership development journey will be more inspired to work toward the overarching goals of your company and drive innovation in competitive markets.
- Skilled leaders attract and keep top talent: Personal leadership development plans can help attract top performers to your business and keep them around for longer. A reduction in staff turnover is key to meeting your business objectives.
- Helps increase employee engagement: Potential leaders can participate in leadership training that makes them feel more connected to the company.
- Improves communication both internally and externally: Effective leadership can make or break the success of your company. If leaders prioritize personal growth and meeting leadership goals, it will result in a stronger culture.
- Proper leadership development strategy drives overall business strategy: Having an effective leadership development plan can help drive the direction that your business is heading. When you take the time to cultivate a leadership style that works for your industry and talent, you will ultimately create a lasting direction for where you want your company to go.
Elements of a Personal Leadership Development Plan
Once you’ve put some thought into the professional development at your company and you have a better idea of how to create a great leader, it’s important to put together a good leadership development plan. The document should be personalized and formatted in an ideal way for the intended audience; some people prefer spreadsheets while others want visual charts. Regardless, here are some elements to include.
1. Essential Skills to Master
Meeting leadership development goals often means mastering certain skills such as running meetings, making personnel decisions, and sharing information with groups. Outline the skills needed to thrive in these types of tasks. In some cases, shadowing someone who exemplifies these strategies is helpful in improving these leadership skills.
2. Experience Gaps to Close
On top of developing tactical skills, it’s important that you understand the strategic responsibilities that an effective leader can take on. This may include anything from starting a new project or turning around an existing project that might not be going according to plan. Managing larger and more essential business projects is also important when determining where to close certain gaps.
3. Identify New Relationships to Build
On top of developing tactical skills, it’s important that you interact with various company stakeholders regularly such as heads of department, managers, and front-line employees. Future leaders need to know how to interact with those in leadership positions and build relationships with them. As you continue your leadership assessment, make sure to identify those that you want to build a mutually beneficial relationship with.
4. Outline Tasks to be Delegated
You can become a better leader by balancing your responsibilities. Finding a balance between taking on tasks yourself while also delegating to those who you entrust to assist you is key for leadership roles. Good leaders always prioritize projects that can generate the most revenue for the company and are completed on time.
5. Pinpoint Key Action Items to Complete
Another aspect to consider on this leadership development journey is to outline the strengths and potential areas where improvements can be made. For example, if you want to improve in a particular area, make sure to follow it up with action items such as a timeframe or any associated costs. This could also include reading more leadership books, completing assessments, or identifying educational opportunities.
6. Establish the Critical Success Indicators
A great leader knows that they are only as successful as their teams. Make sure to strive to always improve your quality of work, provide continuous learning opportunities for your team, delegate when necessary, and improve morale whenever possible.
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How to Create a Personal Leadership Development Plan
Your leadership development program should come in all shapes and sizes to cater to future leadership roles in your organization. Having a personal leadership development plan is essential to act as a readily accessible action plan for your employees. If you aren’t sure where to begin, we recommend following the below guide.
Step 1: Define What Generally Makes a Great Leader
Start creating your leadership plan by looking to today’s leaders who have inspired you. In many cases, it’s important to be able to overcome obstacles and have a high level of emotional intelligence. Who has the abilities, traits, and experiences of a strong leader? For example, you might say that they are honest, ethical, can clearly communicate, use creativity, can manage various scenarios with their intuition, etc. Once you’ve put together these general qualities, you can move to step two in the process.
Step 2: Set SMART Goals
All great leaders follow SMART goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. This means that new skills should be thought out carefully and in the right environment in order for them to develop properly. For example, effective leaders are capable of demonstrating personal responsibility for specific metrics and outcomes within the organization. They are able to take an agile approach to expand their knowledge and own strengths. Another example would be effective time management skills. If you are always running behind on deliverables, you will be unable to keep up with the pace that your job demands. Other goals might include conflict resolution skills or achieving professional certifications that can further your skill sets.
Step 3: Take a Self-Assessment
Don’t lose sight of your core characteristics. Some examples would be personality traits such as impulsive, observant, loyal, ambitious, etc. You can take tests such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) or get together with your peers or family members to see how they would define you on a personal level. Once you have a better understanding of your personality and your strengths, you’ll be better suited to speak to who you are as a leader.
Step 4: Identify Your Core Values
Now that you have a better idea of your core characteristics, you will better be able to outline your core values. These are the principles that help you make your decisions when you have to weigh a difficult decision in your life, whether it is on a personal or professional level. Some common examples of core values include community, affluence, creativity, courage, knowledge, wisdom, humor, and friendship. The most well-rounded leaders have a mixture of various core values that can serve them in the workplace and beyond.
Step 5: Write a Personal Vision Statement
Whether you are starting a new job or you are feeling uninspired in your current position, you can turn to writing a personal vision statement that outlines your core values. It should reflect who you are and your higher calling. You can narrow down these questions by considering the type of person that you want to be, the things that you want to accomplish, and the values that you use to guide your decisions.
This will act as your personal constitution and a physical reminder to which you can refer when needed. This gives you something tangible to refer to when you’re writing out your goals and making your decisions.
Step 6: Analyze What Others Think of You
Being an impactful leader means thinking beyond yourself. You also need to think about what other people think of you including your peers and your industry. Consider how you want your team to speak about you when you aren’t in the room and what their perception is of you. If you don’t care about what other people think, this is a red flag.
Make sure you understand the expectations when it comes to professionalism in your field and consider if you have any changes to make or new skills to learn. Answering these questions can help serve as checks and balances to all of the previous steps.
Step 7: Identify Current and Lacking Leadership Skills
Using the above information, you’ll want to expand on the skills that you’ll need to become an effective leader. Start by listing out what skills you have, such as delegating, Microsoft Excel, communication, etc. Next, think of the traits that you possess. These are natural abilities that will last for a lifetime such as being risk-averse, extroverted, etc. For example, consider what you would write on a resume in terms of personal skills, interpersonal skills, group skills, and technical skills.
As soon as you’ve compiled your list, you can mark each one with an S if it is a strength or a D if it needs development. While you don’t need to embody every trait that a leader has, you can constantly work to grow.
Step 8: Write an Action Plan
Now that you’ve outlined your goals, it’s time to take action. Putting together an action plan can map out the specific steps to take and the resources you’ll use to get there. Prioritize your goals in the order of importance and don’t forget to factor in the time it will take to achieve these goals. You now have your leadership development goals laid out in front of you!
Enhance Your Personal Leadership with Cultivate Advisors
Leadership development plans might take some time to put together, but they are well worth your effort in the long-term. If you’re in need of assistance when putting together leadership development plans at your company, our experienced leadership management consulting team can assist you. We have experience working with countless industries and businesses to help them achieve their goals.