By Popular Request: Individual Leadership Development Plan Examples

One of my most popular posts is one of the first ones I wrote back in 2008 called “How to Write an Individual Development Plan”. The post takes leaders and aspiring leaders through a six step process for identifying their development needs and creating a plan, based on best practice research, to improve their skills.

I often get asked by Great Leadership readers if I could provide them with an example of a completed plan. In fact, that’s a common request from managers I’ve worked with too. One on hand, I hate to provide an “example”, because I’m afraid too many of them will just copy the example and not put enough thought into it. On the other hand, I’ve found that is exactly how busy managers seem to learn the process best – by just showing them what a completed IDP looks like. They don’t have enough time and patience to walk through a reflective six step process, or even read my article. Go figure.

So for all of you terminally busy, impatient, and quick-study leaders, here are two examples of leadership development IDPs. One is for a middle manager, the other a team leader. They both contain some of the most typical development needs and methods I tend to see. These examples are not perfectly formatted, but you should be able to get the gist of how to write one in your own template.

Example #1: Middle Manager:

Name, position, function, location, manager, etc….

Time period: 4/2011 – 4/2012

Development Focus: Improved effectiveness in current role and preparation for potential senior leadership role.

Top 3 Strengths:

1. Functional and industry expertise

2. Financial acumen

3. Problem solving & decision making

Top 3 Development Needs:

1. Improve my ability to lead change

2. Strategic thinking

3. Cross-functional expertise

Development Actions:
Note: Some like to include development actions for each development need. I’ve found that in practice, well written development actions tend to leverage strengths and address multiple development needs.

1. Speak to my manager about my desire to lead a high level, cross-functional process improvement team. This would leverage some of my existing strengths and allow me to gain experience in leading change and strategic thinking, as well as learn about other company functions.

Timing: next week, for potential 2nd quarter project

Cost: none, just my time, others, project costs

2. Set up monthly, one hour phone calls with Joe Schmo and Jen Lopez. They’ve both had experience leading projects like this and achieved outstanding results.

Timing: start next week, schedule for rest of year

Cost: none, just my time

3. Take a course in leading strategic change. Check 3-4 university based, 3-5 day programs.

Timing: This quarter.

Cost: approximately $8-12K

4. Read the following books:
Leading Change
Blue Ocean Strategy

Timing: one book per month

Cost: approx. $20 each, less for e-book.

5. Take a 360 leadership assessment for further insight into my development needs. Incorporate new insights into my IDP.

Timing: complete by 6/1

Cost: $100

Example #2: Team Leader:

Name, position, function, location, manager, etc….

Time period: 4/2011 – 4/2012

Development Focus: Newly promoted, development in brand new role

Top 3 Strengths:

1. Project management

2. Influence

3. Ability to drive for results

Top 3 Development Needs:

1. Coaching and developing my team

2. Handing conflict

3. Listening skills

Development Actions:

1. Work with each of my team members to create IDPs. Be sure to use a coaching approach, asking for than telling.

Timing: Start next week, one per week.

Cost: none, just my time and team members

2. Work with my manager and _____ from HR on my own IDP; get assistance in working with my employees. Subscribe to Great Leadership blog. (-:

Timing: this week, and as needed.

Cost: none, just my time

3. Take online courses in listening skills, conflict management, and coaching.

Timing: Start this week; take one course every two weeks

Cost: Provided through company learning portal; 90 minutes each

4. Take in-house Supervisor’s Essential course

Timing: next time it is offered this year.

Cost: approximately $500, 3 days

5. Read Crucial Conversations. Practice what I learn with at least one work and one personal situation. Incorporate listening skills as well. Get feedback regarding my effectiveness.

Timing: next 3 months.

Cost: $20 for book, my time.

Of course, there are infinite scenarios for leadership development IDPs. I hope these examples (and the six step process) will give you what they need to get started. No copying though. (-: