What Is a Personal Leadership Development Plan?

A personal leadership development plan is a comprehensive plan that maps out an individual’s objective and subjective strategies to assess and improve his or her leadership capabilities. Aside from strategies and action plans, the development plan may also consist of personal vision statements and leadership goals.  

According to an online article published by Harvard Business School Online, a study showed that 57% of HR professionals and executives believed that grooming their present and future leadership was a top priority in 2020. Further, skills such as leadership and social influence were among the top and most in-demand workplace skills through 2022.  

Tips for Creating a Personal Leadership Development Plan

Creating a personal leadership development plan can take a lot of introspection. Since it is personal, you do not need to worry about making it too technical or excessively formal. Here are some tips on how you can make the most out of your personal leadership development plan:

Base it on your own experience. If you really want to get the most out of your personal leadership development plan, you have to be willing to access your personal experiences and be able to articulate them. It will mean a lot more if your leadership development plan is based on your own beliefs and personal experiences. What specific life experiences and circumstances have shaped your leadership capabilities or leadership style? Was there any particular moment or stage in your life that you can recall that made a significant impact in your leadership journey? Asking these types of questions can help you dig deep and uncover lessons and insights about yourself that can ultimately help you craft a richer and more meaningful personal leadership development plan. Know your leadership style. Knowing your leadership style takes a certain degree of self-awareness. If you want to create a personal leadership development plan that is truly reflective of who you are as a person, you need to be able to identify what kind of leader you are. Are you the kind of leader who prefers to delegate tasks or do you tend to micromanage the people around you? Some people lead by example, while others are more comfortable giving orders and like to maintain a sense of control. There are also servant-leaders who exemplify some of the highest qualities in a leader; these types of people usually win the admiration and respect of their subordinates more than any other kind of leader. To know your leadership style, there are various tests or self-evaluation exams that allow you to know yourself better. Accurately assessing your skills and traits can help you determine the kind of leader you are. Get feedback from team members. Another potent way to know what kind of leader you are is by gathering feedback from the people that work directly with you or under you. This is a great way to really gauge the impact you have on people. You can ask team members who regard you as their boss or manager and seek their opinions and perspectives in a non-threatening way. When collecting feedback from people, you need to practice open-mindedness and humility. You must always seek honesty from the people you ask. Even if it is not the response you would expect or even want to hear, it is the only way you can truly improve and learn. Reflect on your values. A key component of any personal leadership development plan is a personal vision or mission statement. And to do this, you must have an understanding of your values. What do you consider important as a leader? For you personally, what characteristics or traits should a leader ought to have? What values do you prioritize? For your development plan to work, you need to answer these kinds of questions to fully grasp or establish the core principles that speak to you as a leader. Whether it is transparency or empathy, the core values you pick will set the tone and define the kind of personal leadership development plan you will make. Expand your knowledge. If you want your personal leadership development plan to be substantial and valuable, you need to do some considerable research. Even if it is a personal goal, you can make it your mission to actively expand your knowledge and understanding outside of yourself and what you know. Learn and educate yourself on different kinds of leadership styles, familiarize yourself with the lives and stories of great leaders in history. Read biographies and books on becoming a better leader or on sharpening your leadership skills. By owning your education and personal progress, you can effectively bring more to the table when you start crafting your personal leadership development plan.

Ways to Improve Your Leadership Ability

No one is really ‘born’ a leader. Although people may have innate traits within them that would make them potentially great leaders, it is only through the right training and education that they are molded into better leaders. There are several ways you can refine and improve your leadership capabilities. The following examples below are some ways you can achieve that. 

Learn from others. Becoming a leader is rarely the result of one’s own singular work. Undoubtedly, leaders and those in top positions have reached their posts with the help and support of people around them. This is an important idea to remember that without others, no one can essentially get anything done. It is with this kind of mindset that should allow you to improve your leadership ability. One way to become a better leader is to learn from the people around you. You not only get to learn from observation and from their first hand accounts and experiences, you sometimes also end up learning something about yourself because of the encounter. Further, you should not only learn from those more senior and more experienced than you. There is also so much to be learned from others even subordinate to you in the workplace. Basically, you can learn from anyone you encounter if only you have the right mindset and openness. Look for a mentor. In the past, a lot of younger inexperienced people became apprentices under more senior professionals such as merchants and blacksmiths. They took on the job in order to learn, gain knowledge and develop their skills. Today, having a mentor is an amazing opportunity. Not only do you get to absorb all kinds of knowledge and information first-hand, you also have a pertinent figure to guide you and correct you when you commit mistakes. Mentorship is fast-becoming a significant program in a lot of corporate environments. Mentorship comes with many benefits and opportunities. When you are lucky enough to find the right mentor, it opens so many doors to growth, learning and development. Maintain a learning mindset. No learning can ever occur with a closed mindset. It takes a certain degree of open-mindedness and even humility to start from zero and learn new things. A true leader does not shy away from challenges or claim to know everything there is to know. If you want to grow and improve as a leader, then you must also have a growth mindset. This means you are willing to learn from others and are constantly seeking improvement and new knowledge. This is an important trait in any leader because it displays a keenness and desire for opportunity and progress. Undergo training. Many people tend to underestimate the value of training. Leaders, however, know how important practice and years of training are important in the long-run. Without the proper training, there is a greater chance of giving up especially when one is faced with adversity and challenges. It is important to be willing to put yourself out there and dedicate time and energy to honing not just skills, but your mindset as well. Leadership has many different aspects with each one requiring their patient practice and time to develop. Areas such as communication, strategic planning, problem solving, interpersonal skills and even confidence are capabilities that are not mastered overnight.

How to Create a Personal Leadership Development Plan

Since it is a personal project, you are free to format your personal leadership development plan in the way you deem fit. You can also use an existing template if you prefer not to start from scratch. With a ready-made template from above, you can save more time and energy. Once you have selected a template of your choice, keep in mind the following steps:  

Step 1: Open with a Vision Statement

A personal leadership development plan should be a plan that you can deeply resonate with. It all begins with you and what your vision is for yourself and for your leadership journey. What is your definition of a leader? What do you envision yourself doing as a leader in your chosen field? What do you project in the next 3 or 5 years in your leadership journey? It is important to start with an encouraging vision that you set for yourself. It does not need to be a complex statement, a brief and straightforward statement should suffice. You are free to also incorporate a mission statement within your vision. Again, you should not feel limited by any rules.    

Step 2: Set Your Leadership Objectives

Once you have established a clear vision statement, you need to follow it up with a list of your personal leadership objectives. What are the goals you want to accomplish in your role as a leader? What outcomes do you want to achieve over the course of your leadership journey. Having clear objectives can help you keep your focus when you encounter obstacles and distractions along the way. When you have clear-cut goals, you are reminded of the why and purpose of your development plan. Your objectives do not need to be extensive, a couple of bullet points or paragraphs should do.  

Step 3: Outline the Action Plan

After establishing the what and why of your personal leadership development plan, the next step is confronting the how. How do you plan to accomplish the leadership objectives you set for yourself? What strategies can you commit to that will allow you to nurture your leadership abilities? What concrete actions can you take to become a better leader? You need to be able to determine and discuss the ways and means that will put you on the path toward improvement and progress. Lastly, you also need to come up with a rubric or way of measuring your success or progress in relation to your leadership goals. 

Step 4: Provide a Timeline

Another important section that must be integrated in your personal leadership development plan is a timeline. Any action plan needs deadlines or target dates in order to promote efficiency and urgency. Although, make sure your timeline is reasonable enough for all your goals to be accomplished. You want to avoid scheduling tight deadlines purely for the sake of having deadlines. A personal leadership development plan should aim for long-term goals, not only short-term rewards.    


How do you write a personal leadership development plan?

To write a personal leadership development plan, you first need to set a vision for yourself. Create a vision statement, establish your personal leadership objectives, map out your action plan, and set a timeline to meet your goals.

What should a leadership development plan include?

According to an article published by Northeastern University, the main elements of a personal leadership development plan are core skills, experience gaps, new relationships, specific tasks, key action items and critical indicators of success.

What do you write in a personal development plan?

To create your own personal development plan, you need to invest the time and energy into setting clear goals and assessing honestly your individual strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Doing a personal SWOT analysis can greatly help you map out what you need to do in order to improve.

A personal leadership development plan is more than just finding the right SMART goal or using the right strategies. Yes, they are important components but your plan should also reflect you as an individual and your role as a leader. It should reflect your core values and your commitments as a leader. Browse the sample templates above and create your own personal leadership development plan now!