What is a Leadership Development Plan and Why Do You Need One

Last Updated on January 14, 2023 by Milton Campbell

There are many ways to develop leadership skills. One of the most effective is to create a Leadership Development Plan or LDP.

An LDP is a written plan that outlines your goals and objectives as a leader and helps you achieve them by making decisions about how you will spend your time, energy, and money.

What is a Leadership Development Plan?

personal leadership development plan

A Leadership Development Plan is a roadmap for your leadership learning and growth. It’s about improving your skills, growing in your role, and achieving your career aspirations.

The LDP should be customized to you based on what you want to get out of it. Whether that’s more confidence as a leader or becoming more strategic, and what you feel will help you achieve those goals. Think about the kind of person you want to become as a leader and create an action plan accordingly.

Leadership development plan steps

  • Set a goal. What is your desired outcome?
  • Determine the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.
  • Develop a plan for how you will close that gap. Do this by identifying specific actions, people, and resources that will help close the gap between where you are now and where you want to be in terms of leadership skills, knowledge, and experience.
  • Put yourself in leadership opportunities. There are many ways to do this—it could mean taking on projects or tasks at work or volunteering for community organizations outside of work hours (like coaching children’s sports teams). Either way, taking on additional responsibilities will give you more opportunities to lead others as well as learn from others’ experiences along the way!

Explore your current state of leadership skills

As you are assessing the state of your leadership skills, it’s important to look at areas where you may be lacking. This is referred to as “gap analysis.”

  • Identify what’s working well and what isn’t. You can take an honest assessment of your strengths and weaknesses by looking back on past experiences, asking for feedback from others (including direct reports), or completing a leadership assessment.
  • Determine how you want to grow as a leader now and in the future. Do you want to improve specific skills? Are there certain areas where more training would help? Think about how this relates to your organization’s vision and strategy; what does it mean for leadership development at your organization?

Once you have mapped out where things stand today with regard to leadership development, consider where they could go in the future.

See Related: 12 Top Leadership Qualities for Great Leaders

Determine your leadership gaps

The first step to creating a leadership development plan is identifying the gaps in your current leadership skills. It’s important to take an honest look at yourself and determine what specific areas need improvement.

You may have already identified some of these gaps, but if you haven’t, ask people who work with you or know your strengths and weaknesses what they think are some of your biggest flaws as a leader. Listen carefully to their feedback. It can be eye-opening!

Develop a plan to address your gaps

Your first step is to identify the areas you need to improve. In some cases, you may already know what these are because someone has pointed them out or you’ve been given feedback by your peers or manager. Other times, they might be things that you realize only after taking a step back and reflecting on how your performance compares with others in similar roles at your company.

In either case, take note of areas where you want to make progress; then prioritize them based on how important they are for advancing your career (e.g., being able to work independently would be more important than being able to manage people). This will help guide your efforts as you develop a plan for leadership development over time, and give clarity about which skills will have the biggest impact on what success looks like for you personally.

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Once this list has been prioritized in order of importance across all three categories (technical/functional, leadership), it’s time to start thinking about how exactly each item fits into those categories before deciding on the next steps for improvement.

See Related: How to Write SMART Goals (Definition and Examples)

Put yourself in leadership opportunities

  • Ask for a leadership role. You’re more likely to get the experience you need if you ask for it rather than waiting around passively.
  • Offer to help someone else with their project. If a colleague has a project that needs someone to lead it, offer to step in and take some responsibility!
  • Volunteer to take on extra responsibilities. If there’s something in your company or team that needs work done but no one is assigned it, volunteer! This can be especially useful if there are skills gaps or projects that no one knows how to do well yet – consider offering up your services as an opportunity for growth!
  • Try new things. Take on responsibilities outside of your typical role so that you learn from different perspectives and areas of focus within the organization (and enjoy some fresh air too!)
  • Lead by example. Be honest about the ways in which leadership applies directly through everyday interactions with others at work; this will help others see how important those skills are when leading effectively themselves.”

Track your progress and refine your plan as needed

Once you have created your plan and set goals, don’t just let it sit there. Track your progress and refine your plan as needed.

The best way to do this is by setting regular check-in dates on when you will review your progress against the goals. If things aren’t going as planned, then make changes to the plan and course-correct accordingly. Don’t be afraid of making adjustments!

If everything is going well, then just keep doing what works for now until you feel like making some modifications and increasing difficulty levels in certain areas of leadership development (like speed or accuracy).

See Related: 5 Ways to Track Your Progress (And Why it’s so Important)

Making a leadership development plan is a great way to improve as a leader

Creating a leadership development plan is a great way to improve as a leader. A leadership development plan is an essential tool for building your skills and understanding of the role, as well as for defining your goals and identifying the support you need to succeed.

It’s also a great way to stay on track with your leadership development over time, which will help you achieve those goals by making sure you keep learning, growing, and improving in all areas of leadership.

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