A leadership development plan is a detailed plan to train and hone leadership skills of current employees and allows for individuals to advance into leadership positions within an organization. Often a leadership development plan for managers includes formal classroom-style training over a set period of time that ranges from months up to a year.

Individual development plan ideas may include executing coaching, reflective journaling, constructive feedback, coursework, or mentoring. Implementation of a leadership development plan helps organizations prepare and adapt for the eventual step down or retirement of existing leadership. Currently, 77% of organizations experience a leadership gap and 89% of surveyed executives believe that strengthening organizational leadership should be a top priority. However, 63% of millennials believe their leadership potential is not being fully developed. Leadership development goals and action planning for organizations can realign these leadership priorities. Additionally, 81% of employees who report to recently trained managers are more engaged in their jobs, further emphasizing the importance of proper leadership development.

The advantages of excellent leadership development training

There are many advantages to excellent leadership development training. While many unanticipated advantages can arise from executing a leadership development plan, below are a list of the best qualities upon completion of a leadership development plan checklist:

1. Increased productivity

Properly trained leaders in an organization know how to get the best performance out of their people. They’re able to understand different personality types and how each one best thrives in a work environment. A development plan example would be recognizing when to let an introvert work alone or in a small group to maximize their output, or putting an extrovert in charge of a group of younger teammates to get them riled up. These are both examples of good leadership training. Good leaders are also empathetic, engaging, and willing to go the extra mile with their employees when need be. As a result, employees led by strong leadership are more invested in their project and their jobs, creating a win-win for all involved.

2. Retained workforce

Employees who work under poor leadership have a harder time staying motivated. Even if they like the work they’re doing, it’s inevitably bound to not be their best. As a result, employees start leeching away in search of a more rewarding job that offers better leadership. Conversely, strong leadership keeps employees motivated and engaged in their work. Others will flock to strong leadership and stay put.

3. Invest in your organization’s future

Great organizations strategize and plan for leadership succession. It can be tempting to give the top job opportunities to the most forward employees with dominant personalities, but these candidates may not be the best choice for the job. A leadership development plan helps identify the right quality mix and nurture employees over time until they’re ready to run the organization themselves.

4. Discover the perfect leadership style

Identifying the best leadership practices for individual employees can be challenging enough, and can become exponentially harder when you take the entire organization into account. Creating a company-wide leadership development plan can actually help pinpoint the best leadership styles across the organization and individual teams.

5. Make better decisions

An organization with great leadership works at its best. The ideas flow, projects get done, and leaders create a collaborative environment that fosters questions and suggestions. What do these characteristics add up to over time? Better decision-making and a thriving organization.

Two women seated talking while seated at a meeting table.

How to create an action plan to improve leadership skills

So, we bet these leadership development plans sound pretty good right about now. But how do you create an action plan that’s tailored to your company? We’ve outlined the five steps every company should take to build a leadership development plan.

1. Consider your business needs and goals

Make a list of the leadership qualities you are looking for with your organization. What are the strategies that are working well? Are there gaps and room for improvement? How many leaders do you need? How will they be committed to the goals of the organization? Identifying what type of leader you want to train is the first step for creating a great leadership development plan.

2. Talk to your employees

Everyone’s job has a unique perspective, and the strength of a thoughtful organization is to take as much input from each branch of the organization as possible. Ask for feedback from all of your employees to determine what they’re looking for in a leader. It’s also good to ask them to candidly state what is working and not working in the organization. Use the eyes and ears of your organization to your advantage to create a great leadership development plan.

3. Consider different types of training and development

There are several strategies to consider for leadership training. Mentoring and modeling are both popular “train as you go” types of leadership development. The benefit of these approaches is a hands-on and extensive training experience, but these are usually best-suited for individual or small group training. For larger groups, online, workshops, or classroom training might be more appropriate.

4. Establish the objectives and goals of the plan

Keep your business needs and goals in mind and identify clear objectives and goals for your leadership trainees. Creating a leadership development action plan example for your company could aid in identifying the key traits and objectives you’d like to see in your leadership trainees, and convey to your employees your expectations going into their leadership development program.

5. Measure success

What are the traits of your new leadership trainees that can be tracked? Identifying ways to quantify the implementation of your leadership development plan provides invaluable information as you tweak the program in the future. This could be a measure of work output, employee contentment, or profit margin, among many others. Decide what works best for tracking the leadership development at your organization.

In the following section, we provide several individual leadership development plan examples.

Leadership development plan examples

Let’s look at some individual development plan examples. Because of the range of skill sets and experiences found among employees, we recommend tailored leadership training plans for employees and managers.

Individual development plan examples for employees

You may want to train employees for future leadership that have never had other employees working for them. For these individuals, you want to provide a strong basic skill set on leadership that will take time. This is a more significant investment and can include long-term training strategies like ongoing mentoring.

Example 1

Goal: Develop management skills

Skills: Clear communication and instruction, delegation, decision-making, and problem-solving

Resources required: Access to leader mentors, instructional resources, reflection and feedback

Readout: Assessment of management skills by the current leadership

Timeline: Months to Years

Example 2

Goal: Build confidence in leadership ability

Skills: Develop self-efficacy, assertiveness, and emotional intelligence

Resources required: Mentor instruction and praise

Readout: Feedback from mentors and employees

Timeline: Months to years

Example 3

Goal: Develop decision-making capabilities

Skills: Gather information to weigh options, logical reasoning

Resources required: Class instruction and trainee reflection

Readout: Track changes in work output, profit changes

Timeline: Months to years

Individual development plan examples for managers

Managers already have a strong leadership experience base, and may just need a refresher or may need to acquire just one specific skill set. These objectives can often be accomplished in a workshop or retreat setting.

Example 1

Goal: Improve Communication Skills

Skills: Manage expectations and communicate value for the project

Resources required: N/A

Readout: Feedback from Employees on Manager Communication

Timeline: Days to Weeks

Example 2

Goal: Improve motivational skills

Skills: Publicly recognize good work, stay positive, share big picture strategies

Resources required: N/A

Readout: Increased work output

Timeline: Weeks to months

Example 3

Goal: Improve time management skills

Skills: Efficiency of individual and group attention

Resources required: N/A

Readout: Employee feedback on individual instruction and effective use of group meetings

Timeline: Weeks to months

Make training, coaching, and enablement part of leadership development

Both new and veteran leaders need ongoing training, coaching and enablement so they can hone essential leadership skills. Seismic can help jumpstart your leadership development plan. Click here to learn more about our training and coaching software, or schedule a call with one of our teammates.