1) What is the purpose of a personal leadership plan?Personal leadership plan is mostly needed for emerging leaders but can also be very useful for established managers. Its purpose is to develop your leadership capabilities through careful planning. It helps to identify where you want to be in terms of your leadership, and the steps needed to achieve your prime goal. Nonetheless, it is also helpful for your self-assessment. It helps to understand where you stand at the moment, your strengths and weaknesses and opportunities for future development.
2) What is included within a personal leadership plan?
To begin with, it should include the idea where you stand now. Based on the comments of your employees or colleagues, it should basically include the list of your strengths and weaknesses as a leader. These might be your traits, abilities, ambitions, competencies, and experiences. As Edward Reilly (2012) hints, these could be: your ability to take responsibility for the toughest decision, your ability to overcome decision making obstacles, or your ability to forecast changes and control changes. As a next step, rate your skills on some scale to see exactly what there is good and bad in you (Hess 2012).
After that, try to think about who you want to be and shape the leadership vision. It could be political, business or social leadership vision. This part of the plan should answer the question, “As a leader, what do you want to create for yourself and your people?” At this stage, you need to form the goals you want to reach. These could be: increasing confidence in your leadership abilities, widening the network of colleagues, improving loyalty of your employees, becoming an inspirational role model and so on.
Finally, sketch a timeline of the precise goals and the deadline by which you want them to be achieved. The plan could be short-term (less than 1 year ahead), middle-term (1-3 years) or long-term (more than 3 years). Ideally, one would want to have a number of objectives combining both short-term and long-term perspectives. At this stage, weaknesses should define goals and strengths should define mediums to reach objectives (e.g. combat weaknesses). The examples of such goals could be: participating in the training program, motivating an employee by influencing or convincing him, identifying a coach or an observer, etc.
3) What are the pros and cons to creating a personal leadership plan?
Personal leadership plan can be highly beneficial if designed correctly (objectively) and followed prudently. It can improve leadership capabilities and considerably boost related business performance. It is highly desirable to develop such plan for aspiring leaders.
Its main drawback is that it takes time to understand oneself, and sometimes there is no clear (objective) understanding which traits a person possesses, even if the opinion about this person is expressed by a presumably unbiased third party. Moreover, if the plan is designed vaguely, it may mislead and distract from the main business idea.
4) What strategies would you recommend to develop and update your own leadership plan?
First, as it is said in the old Chinese proverb, every long journey starts with a small footstep. So I would recommend starting the plan first with minor goals and increasing their difficulty and importance over time.
Second, altering a character is not immediate; it rather takes a lot of effort. To feel motivated all the time, I would recommend having many short-term tasks, but all these short-term tasks should be united by a long-term objective. Moreover, in such a way it would be easier to monitor if you stick to the plan.
Third, every plan should be constantly reassessed and adjusted accordingly. There is no way you can design a perfect plan from the very beginning. As a leader learns, he will realize that there are mistakes to be solved, gaps to be filled and to imprecisions to be clarified. So, if someone wants to change sincerely, he needs to introduce constant corrections to the plan and write new goals every time the old goals were achieved.
5) Moving forward describe your intentions with creating or not creating your own leadership plan in the future. Do you see the value in creating a personal leadership plan or not? If so, why? If not, why?
I will definitely have such a plan, once I occupy a managing position. Definitely, I see the value in setting a clear vision of my personality as a leader. The plan would also provide me with the distinct path needed to become a better person (at least, in terms of leadership). Aside from this, my plan may benefit my employees, create more comfortable working atmosphere and lead to greater business results.
- Caryl Hess. 2012. Developing a Personal Leadership Development Plan: A Practical Guide. Available at https://www.sgim.org/
- Edward Reilly. 2012. Management and Leadership Fundamentals That Will See You Successfully Through Your Career. AMACOM.