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No leader is the same because each is a different person with their own unique strengths. The process of growing into the leader that you want to be requires creating a personal leadership development plan as you decide what is important for your and your team’s success.

Below, you’ll find an individual leadership development plan with a template included. This plan will help launch your learning and development journey in the right direction and in a way that will help you reach your vision and passions.

What Is a Leadership Development Plan?

A leadership development plan is a detailed roadmap with specific professional development milestones. These milestones (which often include competencies in both hard and soft skills) help improve one’s leadership abilities.

The development plan serves as a periodic review to ensure that leaders are:

  • Prioritizing their development efforts
  • Staying on target with their plan
  • Making consistent progress towards goals
  • Adjusting or modifying relevant development areas as needs arise

What Are the 5 Components of an Individual Leadership Development Plan?

While every person’s development plan will look different, you should include five components in your roadmap:

1. Development Areas

Explore the following questions to help identify development areas in your leadership journey. This exercise will help personalize your development plan and create a fulfilling career that speaks to your interests.

  • What strengths would you like to capitalize on?
  • What weaknesses would you like to improve upon?
  • Think about your current capabilities in hard and soft skills relevant to your position. Are you using these skills? If not, how might you leverage them?
  • What stretch assignments might help you grow?

2. SMART Goals

Based on your answers from #1 Development Areas, select three to five development goals or capabilities you would like to work on. Make sure these are SMART goals:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Aligned with the organization’s goals
  • Realistic
  • Time-dependent

Consider prioritizing your answers from #1 to help you narrow your options and solidify your goals.

3. Required Resources

Identify what developmental resources are available to you. Evaluate the development goals identified from #2 above and jot down the resources needed or support required to fulfill those goals and development capabilities.

Examples of resources may include:

  • Learning and development (L&D) courses: Your organization may have L&D courses available to help elevate your leadership competencies.
  • Mentorship: You could find a mentor or someone who embodies your goals to guide you in developing a skill or navigating challenging scenarios that you may be facing. Having a trusted advisor and support system who can offer opinions and instruction is a valuable resource for your success and growth as a leader.
  • Collaborative opportunities: Reach out to and participate in other team or department meetings to learn more and expand your knowledge and reach. Finding on-the-job opportunities to practice or build skills will be the most successful actions you can take.

4. Targeted Start and End Dates

Any successful plan must include a start and end date. Consider your other commitments and priorities to create realistic deadlines.

You’ll also want to establish milestone dates between the start and end times. These milestones will provide opportunities to check in on your plan, re-evaluate your progress, and keep you on track toward your goals.

5. Feedback Cycle

A strong development plan needs to include a feedback cycle. Asking for feedback establishes accountability to stay on track with your plan and adds insightful guidance to your leadership journey.

Your leadership roadmap will sometimes deviate from the plan. A feedback cycle allows the flexibility to check in and adjust as necessary.

  • Work with your leader or colleagues to determine a feedback session frequency. Establish dates to ensure they happen.
  • If you’ve requested feedback, be receptive to the input provided during these progress checks. Determine how you can act on any suggestions and guidance as you continue to hone your skills.

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When Should You Create a Leadership Development Plan?

You should create a leadership development plan during each phase of your career. Development should be ongoing because your goals and needs as a leader are constantly evolving.

Early Career

Early in your career is an excellent time to assess your strengths, blind spots, interests, and passions. These areas can help lay the foundation for a strong leadership career.

A robust and personalized leadership training program paired with a mentorship program can be a transformative tool in your early career path.


Once established, this is an excellent time to reflect on your early leadership experience and reevaluate it. This reflection period provides space for you to:

  • Identify hidden or missed opportunities to explore.
  • Find a renewed sense of purpose.
  • Evaluate the skills required for your next career move

Late Career

When you’ve advanced in your career, you have a more complete understanding of your industry, business, and yourself. Tap into these insights to assess how you may want to leverage this knowledge. Again, leadership development should be ongoing. It’s never too late to build new skills or refine existing skills as you pass knowledge onto others.

What Are the Benefits of an Individual Leadership Development Plan?

There are three primary benefits to creating and implementing an individual leadership development plan:

1. Improves One’s Leadership Capabilities

Leadership development plans benefit the business and its leaders. Following through with a development plan means investing in your leadership career.

This investment can manifest in advantageous ways, like the following:

  • Promotion to more significant leadership roles or responsibilities that offer greater self-fulfillment
  • Nurturing better teams and workforce members who invest in their roles
  • Achieving better business results and meeting target goals

2. Increases Confidence

With better leadership capabilities, you’ll feel more confident and competent in your professional and personal life. A Gartner survey reports that “only half of business leaders feel confident leading their teams.” A leadership development plan can salvage this crisis of confidence and better equip leaders to be successful.

3. Improved Individual and Organizational Performance

While an individual leadership development plan is not a performance plan, progress made will likely have a direct impact on performance numbers for the leader, their team, and the organization as a whole. This improved performance not only leads to increased job satisfaction and retention of these committed leaders, but overall success of the organization. A recent Gallup study states that organizations who make an investment in employee development report 11% great profitability and are twice as likely to retain their employees.

Invest in Your Potential and Growth

With the number of responsibilities leaders face daily, it can be challenging to fine-tune and solidify a viable leadership development plan. CMOE’s portfolio of leadership workshops and development solutions helps leaders and talent development managers overcome these challenges. We offer customized workshops and curriculum development services to help build out your unique development plan approach.

Contact our team for more information.