5 Best Tips for Creating a Personal Leadership Development Plan

A personal leadership development plan is one of your best tools to help define and direct your career goals. It can also help you achieve the following results:

  • Be ready for stimulating opportunities and challenges for your career development.
  • Leverage your executive education.
  • Achieve personal career satisfaction.
  • Make an impact on the business organization.

However, certain questions still remain.

  • What is the essence of a personal leadership development plan?
  • How do we create it efficiently and effectively?

By reading this article, these information gaps will be resolved and you will learn the best tips in creating the best personal leadership development plan. 

1. Include your career vision in the personal leadership development plan 

It is very important to include your career vision in creating a personal leadership development plan. Without it, you will never know where you are going. You can create your career vision by asking yourself these series of questions:

  • What place does my career take in my life?
  • How does my career contribute to my life satisfaction?
  • How do I want my career to add to my overall satisfaction?
  • What impact do I want to make for my company and why?
  • What is my leadership style?
  • What are my leadership skills?
  • How important is leadership development to me?

By asking these questions, you will be able to honestly assess yourself on where you are currently standing, and learn how far you are from achieving your goals and objectives.

2. Use the SMART approach in creating your personal leadership development plan

Personal Leadership Development PlanYour personal leadership development plan should not be vague in terms of goals, timelines and overall structure. The best way in order to make it clear is to use the SMART approach in creating the goals and objectives incorporated in the development plan. The SMART system is defined as the following:


You must make your personal development plan very specific. It should not be so broad that it can’t actually be actionable. All plans should be clear and very specific in order to be able to implement them easily and effectively.


You must make a leadership development program that will have results that are measurable. No matter how good the plan is, if it is not measurable, then you will have a hard time achieving the results you really want. Results must be quantifiable in order to track progress in the development program you created for enhancing leadership competencies. Key performance indicators must be established in crafting the personal leadership development program.


Your development goals must be acceptable to you and to the entire business organization. You will only be able to successfully implement the career development plan if you are willing to do it without anyone forcing you to do so. Moreover, seeking support from the management of the organization can also help you lot in the implementation process.

Realistic & Results-Oriented

While it is good to aim high, you should still keep in mind that you need to be realistic in your plans. It must be results-oriented. Accomplishments and improvements in your personal growth must be seen after implementing the plans.


Implementation of plans as well as evaluation of results must be time-bound. There should be a specific time frame for every action and for every result. They should be categorized ranging from 1 day, 1 week, 1 month, 1 quarter or 1 year.

3. Set firm action steps in your personal leadership development plan

Goals without specific action steps are only wishes. Take each goal from your SMART assessment and write the necessary action to succeed into your personal leadership development plan. Ensure you also identify potential impediments, as well as resources - such as key people in your network or targeted leadership training programs - that could help you. These action steps should fit the timeline for goals in your leadership development plan.

4. Integrate personal leadership skills development into your plan

Personal Leadership Development Plan

Many of the goals in your personal leadership development plan mean taking on challenges or seniority postings that will be new to you. To ensure your success, integrate leadership skills development to prepare for each of these steps. For example, a few years into a general management career, you may aspire to a global-level position.

An executive leadership program at a top international business school will help prepare your leadership skills and understanding of the global business environment. Leadership coaching which may be given as part of a specific leadership program would also be a boost at this time.

5. Assess, reassess and grow your personal leadership development plan alongside your career

Your leadership development plan is not a static document: it should change and grow to stay relevant. Reassessment gives you the chance to adjust if it seems a goal wasn't realistic after all. It also enables you to adapt to the unforeseen, such as an unexpected opportunity not to be refused. Having a set leadership development plan will help you be clearer if this alternative direction is, in fact, right for you. This is true even when this opportunity differs from the goals listed on your personal leadership development plan.

Still looking for a Personal Leadership Development Course?

  • The Financial Times acknowledged IMD as one of the best institutions in the world for executive education and open programs.
  • Our Mobilizing People program is 100% committed to developing global leaders through high-impact executive education.
  • Take your career to the next level today by strengthening your existing skills and acquiring the skills you are missing.

Discover how IMD's Mobilizing People program unlocks your leadership potential.

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