Leadership Development: Crafting Your Personal Development Plan

Subscribe to the Three Star Leadership Blog
The Working Supervisor's Support Kit is a collection of information and tools to help working supervisors do a better job. It's based on what Wally's learned in over twenty years of supervisory skills training.
Follow me on Twitter
For weekly tips and resources pointers, check Wally's Three Star Leadership Letter
Find out more about having Wally speak to your company or convention.
Find out more about Wally's coaching services.
View Wally Bock's profile on LinkedIn

Efficient and effective leadership development doesn't happen by accident. No matter what situation you're in now, your development as a leader is up to you. And you'll do a better job of it if you have a plan.

Effective plans of any kind need to answer four basic questions. What's the current situation? What do I want to change? How am I going to do that? What might be fun to try?

In most textbooks, processes like this are presented as straight lines. You can do it that way, but you'll get better results if you consider the four questions as a system. Every time you come up with an answer for one, check to see if and how your new answer affects other answers.

What's the current situation?

This is no time to replace sober evaluation with blind self-confidence. It's certainly not time for self-delusion.

Evaluate your performance. Review your activities from the past year? What do you need to improve? If you've been evaluating your own performance all year, this will be easy.

Get help. Your boss will have some ideas. Get candid feedback from your peers. They know your work and contribution well. Consider some form of 360 degree feedback.

Check out Various Needs Assessments to Help Identify Leadership Development Goals from Carter McNamara.

What do I want to change?

Take the notes you've gathered from your assessment, but don't stop with them. Consider using some kind of a checklist to spark your thinking.

One of the best is in a recent post by Dan McCarthy, for my money the guru of leadership development programs. The post is "Top 12 Development Goals for Leaders."

How am I going to do that?

I thought to myself, "Why come up with the answer to a question like this, when I can ask Dan?" So I did. Here's what he said.

"Seek out mentors and experts. Learn from others.

Seek out new experiences. Look for "resume enhancing" projects and new responsibilities (on and off the job).

Don't stay in the same job too long, especially if you're not learning. Try to make sure that at any time 20 percent of your job is new and challenging.

Make sure you're always asking for feedback. Be a lifelong leadership learner, i.e., subscribe to leadership and industry blogs [like Dan's Great Leadership] and newsletters, read the latest books."

Courses are great, but they only give you ideas of what to apply on the job. Some of the most effective leadership development happens in developmental assignments. Sometimes they're permanent. Sometimes they're not.

Seek out opportunities to spend time with great leaders.

What might be fun to try?

As you do your planning, you'll come up with ideas that aren't fully formed or that don't make sense right now. Don't lose them. Put them someplace where you can go back and review them.

Ready to write your plan? Read Dan's post on "How to Write a Great Individual Development Plan." 

Be sure to build frequent review into your plan so you can assess how you're doing.

Check out the following related posts

Becoming a Great Leader is Up to You

Leadership Development: Big Company Programs and You

Leadership Development: Getting the Most from a Class

Leadership Development: When to hire a coach

Leadership Development: How to hire a coach

The Perfect Leadership Book for You

Leadership Development: Starting Your Personal Reading Program


Wally's Working Supervisor's Support Kit is a collection of information and tools to help working supervisors do a better job. It's based on what Wally's learned in over twenty years of supervisory skills training. Click here to check it out.



What did you think of this article?

  • No trackbacks exist for this post.

  • 1/14/2010 6:59 AM Tom Glover wrote:
    Thanks for this great post Wally. There was one thing that Dan said that was an "ah ha" moment for me. When I look back through my career, I find that the longest I was ever in the same position was 4 years, which was twice as long as my next longest position. Four years was too long for me and I ended up leaving that organization after a total of 13 years.

    Looking back now, I realize that I have been following Dan's advice. I used to think it was strictly boredom that gave me the need to move to a new position, but now I'm thinking it was boredom brought on by no longer learning.
    Reply to this
    1. 1/14/2010 9:34 AM Wally Bock wrote:

      I think that's a great take on Dan's point, Tom. In my research on great working environments I found that people want to do what I call "interesting and meaningful work."  There were two kinds of interesting work. Some work was interesting because it involved problem solving that captured the person's imagination daily. Other work was interesting because the person was learning all the time.

      Reply to this
  • 1/24/2010 9:20 PM John Hunter wrote:
    Good advice. It is easy to tell other people how they need to improve. Try to actually improve yourself. You will often find it is challenging. But the rewards are worth it.
    Reply to this
    1. 1/27/2010 1:48 PM Wally Bock wrote:

      Thanks, John. It's true. But it seems that all the really successful people I've known work at self-improvement. No one else will do it for you. No one else will do it to you.

      Reply to this
  • 9/5/2010 1:32 PM Rob Moore wrote:
    This article is right on point! I agree that every person's leadership development is up to them and there are no limitations. A plan to help this happen is essential as well. I persoanlly read, listen to audios, and implement what I'm learning every single day. Keep up the great work and thanks for sharing!
    Reply to this
    1. 9/5/2010 3:29 PM Wally Bock wrote:
      Thanks for the kind words, Rob. Keep on reading!
      Reply to this
  • 1/19/2011 7:52 AM Mirel George wrote:
    I can't agree more.
    There were times when I would lie myself, as a consequence of to high self-confidence.
    Well said!
    Reply to this
Leave a comment

Submitted comments are subject to moderation before being displayed.


 Email (will not be published)


Your comment is 0 characters limited to 3000 characters.