How To Develop Your Business Leadership Plan

by Mike O'Neill

Are you a leader who always feels like you’re flying by the seat of your pants when problems occur? Does it seem like you’re constantly trying to teach yourself to lead and train your team simultaneously? 

You know you need to build more sustainable, scalable processes and help you prevent human error or technical issues, but you’re not sure how. Every business leader wants a shortcut for success, but let’s be honest, there are so many shortcuts out there to take advantage of.

The best way to fast track your business is to rely on an expert who’s been where you are and came out on the other side. An expert — like a business coach — knows exactly how to diagnose and deal with the problems you’re having, and they can help you fast track a viable solution. 

Allow us to help you make fewer mistakes by learning how to create a leadership development plan, and let’s talk when you’re ready to get help from a professional business coach that you can trust to have your back.

What is a Leadership Development Plan?

Simply put, a leadership development plan is a document that outlines what leadership types you need within your organization, defines the leadership team’s career goals, identifies training methods you want to use, and is frequently assessed and tweaked for improvements.

Why Do You Need a Leadership Development Plan?

Without a leadership development plan, you’ll struggle to get your team on the same page, which means they won’t be as effective — wasting time and money on disjointed efforts.

When you create a leadership development plan, you’ll enjoy the following benefits:

  • Stronger financial performance
  • More consistent achievement within departments
  • More agile leaders who can solve problems quickly
  • An increase in innovation
  • Your leadership will attract better employees who believe in the company vision and work hard to see it succeed 
  • Employees stay more engaged and fulfilled within their roles
  • Customers and employees are more loyal and stick around much longer
  • Your business strategy improves along with the effectiveness of your leaders

What Goes Into a Leadership Development Plan?

Now that you understand what a leadership development plan is and why it’s so important, let’s discuss what actually goes into creating one. When you’re ready to get help creating an effective plan that really drives results — let’s talk.

1. Definition of Leadership Types and Roles

There are way more leadership styles out there than we can list in one post, but to give you a good idea of where to start, we’ll list the common ones.

Transactional Leadership

With transactional leadership, the relationship between a leader and their employees is one of give and take — I’ll scratch your back if you scratch mine. Transactional leaders set clear expectations by defining rewards and penalties for behavior.

Transformational Leadership

Transformational leaders empower their teams by inspiring them to make improvements and find better and faster ways to get the work done. Working for a transformational leader means you can expect plenty of breathing room to think outside the box and work the way you work best.

Servant Leadership

The motto of a servant leader is “serve first and lead second.” They channel all their efforts into finding ways to help their team by prioritizing their team’s needs over their own. Elevating and developing the people they lead is their primary focus. 

Democratic Leadership

This type of leadership style is pretty self-explanatory. A democratic leader emphasizes getting input and buy-in from their team by involving them in the decision-making process. 

Autocratic Leadership

An autocratic leadership style is the opposite of a democratic leadership style. This is what’s called the “my way or the highway” approach. Autocratic leaders see themselves as having absolute power and authority to make all the decisions on behalf of their team members. 

Bureaucratic Leadership

If you’re a leader with a bureaucratic leadership style, you’ll go by the book when it comes to handling any issues that arise and defusing conflicts. Bureaucratic leaders follow all predefined systems for rules and decision-making when managing others.

Laissez-Faire Leadership

The French term, laissez-faire, means "leave it be" based on the laissez-faire leadership style. Leaders with this style will step back and allow their team to solve problems, make decisions, and get their work done on their own terms without micromanaging or interfering. 

Charismatic Leadership

Do people tell you that you have a charismatic personality? If so, then you might be a charismatic leader. Leaders of this type deploy persuasion and communication tactics to unite their team around a single cause. They can lay out the details of the company vision and get people excited about achieving goals.

2. Align with Your Leadership Team’s Career Goals

Setting goals for your leadership team is one of the most important parts of developing your business leadership plan. Without goals, your team won’t have the ability to align their efforts behind common objectives — diluting their effectiveness and minimizing their results.

When setting goals, you need to follow the standards laid out by S.M.A.R.T. criteria, which means your goals are:

  • Specific: what single objective do you want your team to accomplish? For example, maybe you want to increase productivity by 20% this month or your profits by 30%.
  • Measurable: any goal you set needs a way for you to track the progress of your efforts, such as metrics or KPIs.
  • Attainable: don’t set goals that aren’t realistically achievable. Otherwise, your team will get discouraged and won’t put as much effort into hitting the next goal you set.
  • Relevant: why do you want to achieve the goal you’re setting? What outcome are you hoping to see? Make sure the goals you set align with the direction your business needs to go in, like attaining more customers to increase revenue or fixing/optimizing processes to save time and resources. 
Time-bound: every goal you set needs a deadline. Without a deadline, there’s no pressure to get it done — meaning your team will likely procrastinate. 

3. Identify Training Methods

No leadership team on the planet couldn’t benefit from some formal training, and if you want your business to flourish, you need to make training a vital part of your business leadership plan.

With training, you can address both soft and hard skills, such as communications, time management, or even conflict resolution. What method of training you choose needs to be carefully considered. 

You’ll want to discuss what learning methods work best for each member of your leadership team, as well as check your budget vs. training costs to determine what’s the best fit.

Some people learn better by reading, listening, lectures, or combining one or more of these. Some of the options you have to choose from when comparing training methods include:

  • Lectures
  • Hands-on-exercises
  • Videos
  • Podcasts
  • Simulations
  • Self-paced Assignments
  • Group Assignments 
  • Online courses

At Bench Builders, we can help you assess your team and review your budget to identify the training method and program to best suit your needs and deliver the highest ROI.

4. Continuous Improvement

The final piece of your leadership development plan needs to focus on continuous improvement. How often will you review and revise your plan? What parts need to be reviewed and revised more often than others? Ask yourself these questions and make them part of your plan.

You can choose to review and revise your plan as often as you like, but a good rule of thumb is to plan quarterly. Depending on your business model and current growth level, you might want to plan your reviews sooner or further apart, like every month or every 6 months to a year. 

The most important part of choosing the frequency is making sure you can stick with the schedule you come up with. Don’t plan to review monthly if you can’t actually carve out the time required to do so.

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