Leadership Development Plan: Don’t Leave It to Chance

A leadership development plan can help your company get ahead of one its most important tasks: finding the best people to lead the way.

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Leadership Development Plan: Don't Leave It to Chance

Business people know: good leaders are vital to a company’s success. Strong leadership is the key difference between a business thriving for decades or failing in its first few years. And how can you best identify and develop talented team members into future leaders? Create a leadership development plan.

Some believe that leadership competencies develop organically when employees are merely doing their jobs, while others look to leadership training to groom their future managers and C-suite.

The best answer? Don’t leave it to chance. Plan to succeed.

What is a leadership development plan?

87% of companies report that they either have a skills gap now or are expecting one within the next few years.

Creating a plan for the future is a smart move for any business. A leadership development plan is a step-by-step blueprint that helps in choosing, mentoring, placing, and measuring future leaders. 87% of companies report that they either have a skills gap now or are expecting one within the next few years. By developing a strategy to nurture leadership skills, an organization can be ready to deal with the skills gap that’s looming ahead.

Benefits of building an effective leadership pipeline

There are several reasons why your organization might want to plan for its future leadership:

  • Keep valuable employees engaged. Team members who show great potential need opportunities for professional development. Otherwise, they may become disenchanted and start to look for a new position — one in which they can feel appreciated and can advance their career vision.
  • Prepare for leadership vacancies. As time passes, senior leadership ages. The ability to continue meeting key business objectives will eventually fall into the hands of new leadership. Taking steps now to help your employees develop their skills gives them a better chance of success in their future, and your company’s future.
  • Strengthen succession transitions. Lack of succession planning can leave companies at risk. According to Chief Executive magazine, only 54% of Fortune 500 companies are actively working to develop successors to their CEOs, while 40% don’t have a single internal candidate to replace the CEO, should they exit the position. Leadership development programs can head off the looming disaster of unqualified leadership.

Creating a leadership development plan

Businesses often use these seven steps to create a successful leadership plan:

Assess leadership needs

Start at the beginning and perform a thorough leadership assessment, including strengths and weaknesses. Where are the holes? What type of leader might be able to fill them? Realistically identifying your company’s current leadership picture is essential in your ability to foresee future needs.

Define measurable goals and objectives

Make a list, complete with a timeline, of how many new leaders the company will need. What business goals will they be responsible to foster and to achieve? Working your company’s long-term business strategy into the development plan can simplify this step.

Determine the key leadership skills needed

Closely review the company goals and then make a list of the qualities that the next leader needs to possess to bring them to fruition. What management style will you expect of those leaders? Specifically define the experience and soft skills that your future leaders will need. This step can help you close the leadership quality gap.

Secure key stakeholder buy-in

Keep in mind that leadership development plans take a significant investment in time and resources. All of the members of senior leadership need to be on the same page and make the program a top priority if it’s going to work.

Identify promising future leaders

Now that you have taken the time to pinpoint your leadership development goals, begin to put faces with the leadership qualities on your list. Which employees show the promise of successfully filling upcoming leadership roles? How can you further develop your current team leads? Your choices should exhibit high emotional intelligence and should manifest a commitment to fostering your company culture, among other critical leadership traits.

Create the leadership development plan

Lay out the way in which your company will provide leadership development training. This plan may include mentoring, one-on-one coaching, outside development training, and continuous learning — any or all of which will work to craft your employees into the leaders that your company will need in the future. While each future leader may require different development, it’s important to create a leadership development plan template to keep the program, and its stakeholders, consistent and on the same page.

Monitor and measure progress

For leadership training programs to succeed, there must be a way to measure success. By defining what success looks like, companies can measure whether their efforts in developing great leaders hit the mark or fall short. Clear communication, face-to-face feedback, and measuring of workers’ job performance all need to factor into the success of the program.

By defining what success looks like, companies can measure whether their efforts in developing great leaders hit the mark or fall short.

Plan for success

Great leadership doesn’t happen automatically. Developing leadership skills in team members who show high potential is important, both for a company’s short-term viability and for its longevity. But there needs to be a plan. By developing a leadership development program, companies can:

  • Proactively decide the type of leaders that they will need
  • Pinpoint them in their current workforce
  • Develop them with training and coaching

Execute this now, and your company will be much stronger in 2 or 5 or 10 or 20 years.

Do you have access to the tools you need for managing and developing your people? Let Zenefits streamline your processes from beginning to end. Contact us today to find out how we can help.

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