Creating a Development Plan

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As the seasons change, consider your own leadership growth. This could be ripe time for creating an individualized development plan. What are you currently doing to further develop your skills?

Consider the following tips…

1. Set clear goals

  • Ensure the goal is valued by both your mind and your heart
  • Be specific with your goal rather than too broad and overwhelming
  • Enlist support
  • Start small – a little change can have a dramatic effect over the long haul
  • Be persistent – stay focused on your goal and remind yourself that sometimes the process of working towards the goal is just as important as reaching the goal
  • Decide if your goal is to:
    • Develop a new skill
    • Expand a capability you already have skill in – you want to expand and refine your abilities
    • Address a weaker skill – something you are not doing as well as you would like to in your current role

2. Understand the elements that make learning effective

  • Assessment – information that describes your current strengths and level of effectiveness as well as areas that need improvement
    • Consider self-assessment tools, 360⁰ assessments, past performance reviews, informal feedback from others
    • Ask yourself what challenges you have had or anticipate having down the road
  • Challenge – you are stretched out of your comfort zone; beyond your current capabilities and need to try new things
    • Consider ways to add challenge such as a new tasks or responsibilities to your existing role, developmental opportunities outside of work, seek out new perspectives, take a new job with broader or different responsibilities
  • Support – often overlooked element and can make the difference between a positive experience and one that leads to frustration
    • Identify who could be an effective coach, mentor, or reinforce and ask for their specific support

3. Consider multiple development methods

  • Challenging experiences such as serving on a project team or task force, managing a new initiative, working on a ‘fix-it’ or turnaround assignment
  • Adverse situations – hardships can become important learning experiences, such as:
    • External situations such as financial pressures
    • Organizational change
    • Mistakes
    • Career setbacks
  • Developmental relationships – ask yourself who you could learn from
    • Constructive bosses as role models
    • Best sources of on-going feedback
    • Mentors and coaches
    • Challenging relationships
  • Course work and reading – professional development workshops and key reference material to support your learning goals
  • Off-the-Job Experiences – identify what situations outside of work could help you grow specific skills, such as:
    • Volunteering
    • Board participation
    • Coaching a sports team
    • Managing family responsibilities

4. Reflect and assess progress

  • Make use of a learning journal
  • Regularly ask others for feedback
  • Practice using daily/weekly self-assessment questions such as…What am I noticing about my ability to act more decisively?
  • Determine any roadblocks or challenges and consider options

5. Celebrate achievement

  • Take time to identify your new or enhanced leadership skills
  • Reward yourself with something that is meaningful to you!

Book Recommendation

For Your Improvement: A Guide for Development and Coaching (5th edition) by Michael Lombardo and Robert Eichinger, 2010, can be your one stop resource for development ideas. Based on 20 years of research, this book provides actionable tips for 67 leadership competencies, 19 career stallers and stoppers along with 7 global focus areas. It really is like finding an entire library in one book. FYI can serve as a guide for leaders, mentors, and coaches and gives at least 10 tips for each competency along with develop-in-place assignments and suggested readings.


”If you think you can or can’t, you’re right!” Henry Ford