Running a company involves far more than just availing a specific good or service to the public. Indeed, it also requires more than simply convincing customers of your suitability and branding.
To make your business sustainable in a highly volatile marketplace and ensure profits and longevity, your company – like all businesses – requires strategic leadership.
And the impact here can hardly be overstated. Leadership development is a multi-billion-dollar industry with countless schools, experts, and programs, and discourse awash with theories and models meant to suit businesses of all scales.
Well, it’s quite simple. Focused leadership demands long-term thinking about market needs, consumer needs, employee productivity, and of course, profits. Which, in turn, demands an important conceptual tool: a leadership plan.
What Is a Leadership Development Plan?
Understanding Executive Development Plans
Simply put, leadership development involves the adoption of certain activities in your company to improve the quality of its leadership and labor competency.
It’s the process of equipping supervisory and managerial staff with the skills and conceptual tools needed to see themselves towards sustainable profitability and success. Generating this kind of positive change within a company’s inner workings requires a well-defined plan. A leadership growth plan.
There are plenty of elements involved in such a plan, as we’re about to see, but first — some stats.
A recent survey report by PriceWaterHouseCoopers established that:
The same survey also established that while those at the helm displayed an abundance of critical thought when it came to the more analytical aspects of company management — they lacked severely in the emotional quotient department.
That is to say, they personally lacked the necessary tools to “get through” to their teams by painting as clear a picture as possible of their company vision.
Most companies, even those with a solid profit record, experience substantial setbacks — particularly during periods of change (internal or external) — if not steered by well-equipped leaders.
If you’re interested in placing yourself at a competitive vantage, a leadership plan is a vital flag you need to plant to meet both human and strategic company needs.
And, there are many potential payoffs of adopting a strategic plan within your company.
Why Is a Leadership Growth Plan So Important?
It Leads to Better Fiscal Performance
A growth plan adopted by business departments with able leaders is bound to result in better fiscal performance — the spoils of which can then be reinvested into the company.
Likewise, a well-structured leadership, innovation, and decision-making strategy is a necessary tool for senior executive management to drive up the likelihood of a company’s success.
While it’s important to map out the right business strategy or program, both these strategies will work for any organizational structure. And they work even better when adopted simultaneously.
In taking the time to understand what your organization needs from its leaders, you will better understand the business strategy that works best for you. These two strategies go hand-in-hand: developing one will help in achieving the other.
Regardless of your field of business, all companies are bound to reap heavily from cultivating leadership skills within their organization and prioritizing leadership in their company culture. Senior executive leaders who have the right innovation and strategy skills inspire the same in their workforce.
It Leads to More Hands-on, Agile Corporate Management
A company with effective executive/senior management can wade through the commercial environment, complex and dynamic as it is, and come up with quick and effective solutions to problems as they arise.
Executive leadership development equips leaders to think on their feet and adapt to an ever-changing corporate environment.
It Helps Attract, Retain and Motivate Your Workforce
A well-structured executive leadership plan inspires active engagement from your staff.
Well-trained senior executives are more likely to attract, keep, and appropriately remunerate a talented workforce — resulting in consistent satisfaction among staff.
Further, an innovation and vision plan executed with the employee in mind will inspire loyalty among staff. This is particularly true of programs that provide growth opportunities for the more academically-inclined members of staff.
An executive leadership plan that fosters appropriate communication channels within teams is bound to scale up profits within a company.
Which is why it’s so important to foster a team of executives that can attract and retain a worthwhile workforce.
It Facilitates Internal & External Company Communication
A company’s communication channels determine how quickly deadlines can be met, problems solved, and plans made good on.
When your executive management team makes active steps to foster a marketplace of ideas — your company will benefit from faster task execution, a spike in production, and a more satisfied workforce.
Moreover, the positive engagement and morale within your workforce are more likely to flow through to your customers.
What Are the Goals of an Effective Executive Leadership Plan?
Heighten a Manager’s Sense of Responsibility
The mark of a worthy leader lies in their ability to account for their deeds (and the subsequent consequences). In short: their responsibility.
This means that they can examine the outcomes of their decisions and appreciate the lessons gleaned from both success and failure.
A leadership plan will also foster the ability to stand back and objectively assess and learn from the effects of their decisions — whether positive or negative.
Instill Self-discipline Within Trainees
A well-trained leader knows that tough decisions directly affecting the bottom line should ultimately benefit the company or organization rather than the individual.
Yet another mark of sustainable executive leadership is the ability to reflectively assess all available options. And, using the right metrics and criteria, to objectively choose what’s really best for the company.
Foster Active Communication Within the Organization
Pro-tip: Incredible ideas and hands-on mentorship won’t do you much good if your leadership’s communication is sub-par.
But the thing is, gaining the right communication skills is an endeavour that needs effort and time.
But when adequately honed, your skills should equip you to understand how and when to use persuasion, build a rapport with your staff, understanding when and how to exercise persuasion, as well as improve conflict resolution skills.
Also, it’s vital to cultivate listening culture at the topmost rungs of company leadership. Each team member can offer the management important input that can bear directly on everyday company decisions.
Active listening coupled with a well-cultivated space for discussion in a company will do you more good than you’d think.
Add More Conceptual Knowledge on Executive Leadership
Leaders must be generally well-rounded; they ought to have a diverse set of skills across many competences.
A leader who is willing to take the time to learn new fields, especially those that might not necessarily directly relate to their mandate, will certainly have an edge over most other companies and will be able to solve problems in an agile and creative way.
Improve the Trainee’s Inner Clock
The most ineffective leader is hands down the sort that can’t keep to a schedule; that’s are constantly running late on deadlines.
A leader who is able, on the other hand, to make and stick to strict time frames is automatically a good template on which the rest of the team can model a work ethic.
Promote a Work Environment That Fosters Mentorship
Yet another important attribute of a good leader is to foster leadership in others.
A well-trained leader should be able to hone these skills in staff members and foster a culture of leadership development culture within the company.
Possible ways to achieve this could be: soliciting for feedback, coaching, and imparting staff with precise skills for challenging workloads.
Instill a Sense of Long-term Strategizing
Two words. Analytical thinking. Good teamwork and effective problem-solving require a leader who is able to factor in the entire team in the long-term — not only immediately, but at the end as well.
Together with the preceding points, these goals will help you determine the precise training and plans that ought to be most effective for your company.
Examples of Leadership Development Programs/Executive Education Programs
Here are some methods of executing your leadership development plan:
Interpersonal Skills: Conferences for Executives
To cultivate a team of workers with vision in your company, you’ll need to invest in your leaders. One way of doing this is providing them with access to events and conferences that provide skills training on delegation and strategic decision-making.
Indeed, this is the sort of thing that demands resources, both monetary and temporal, but any company that wishes to reap the benefits of a motivated and well-equipped labor force would be well advised to invest in this kind of immersive vision and learning experience.
Other examples of suchlike leadership training events include general presentations, conference intensives, and breakout forums. These will give your company staff a chance to hone their communication, relationship and interpersonal skills.
Strategic Exposure: Meetings, University Classes & Workshops
A well-governed company needs to be managed by a visible and involved leadership team. What this means is, leaders ought to seek out ways of applying their supervisory skills. They can do this by seeking out forums that can earn them exposure, both outside and inside the organisation.
Your leaders must be publicly visible, but that’s often a big responsibility when they have so much on their plates already. Strategically seek out opportunities for your leaders to gain exposure. Help your leaders get used to the exposure required when spearheading company projects, both inside and outside the organization.
What this kind of leadership exposure does is, it provides senior managers with the skills needed to address staff members publicly and give them valuable feedback when need arises. Eligible staff include corporate heads, board members, and other rank employees alike.
Micro-Mentoring & Coaching Programs
If you specifically want to nurture a mentorship culture within your organisation, here’s an executive leadership development plan that you should definitely consider adopting: micro-mentoring.
The objective is simple: to balance out the gradient in skills and empirical experience inherent in any workforce, only this time it works in an objective-specific and time-specific way.
Key areas of focus depend, of course, on specialty, expertise, and the specific aspects of leadership that your company is most in need of, and are inculcated through workshops, volunteer projects, leading events, and micro-mentorship initiatives.
Implemented with consistency, these grow into your organisation’s ethos and promote individual growth and vision.
Adoption of Interactive eLearning
With online business tools being what they are today, peak efficient and diverse, leadership training has never been easier.
The technical ease with which even remote-based companies can conduct interactive leadership training sessions makes this an excellent place to start for any reasonable team of corporates looking for options.
eLearning not only enhances cohesion in an organisation, it equips workers with the necessary skills needed to monitor, motivate, get feedback from and incentive staff teams.
Whether interactive questionnaires or scheduled video classes, eLearning tools have the ability to elaborate on a company’s objectives in all departments, with ease.
Interactive eLearning is also an excellent way to instill in your leaders a lasting sense of feedback analysis, allowing them to carefully analyse problems and decisions when the need arises.
An executive leadership plan should also make a point of affording your leaders an opportunity to make a positive contribution in their nearby community.
A well-run organisation knows that leadership doesn’t cease when everyone checks out after a good day’s work. On the contrary, community projects are essential for your organisation’s local reputation and it will help reinforce a positive moral ethos in your leaders.
Allowing your leaders to do pro-bono work; allowing them to take up projects that involve local charitable communities; all these things go a long way towards giving your leaders actionable hands-on experience.
Creating Your Leadership Development Plan from Scratch
Drafting the Executive Leadership Plan
The first thing to keep in mind when building an executive leadership plan is that it ought to bear relevance to leaders at every level of your company. This ensures your leaders are always performing optimally.
The Ariel Group, which has co-drafted executive education plans across many industries for over twenty-five years, lists six important steps for drafting an executive education action plan and measuring its success.
Here’s where you should start:
- Outline the most important leadership qualities
You will do this by writing a list of the leadership skills, abilities and competencies that ought to be embodied by a great leader. Afterwards, you should solicit senior leadership management for feedback about the drafted list in order to find out which skills are most needed for your organisation.
- Focus on core objectives
Here, you need to outline the primary business goals you are focused on achieving in an easy but thorough manner. For instance, an objective could be: To achieve a 25% increase in total sales after two quarters.
- Assess the requisite leadership skills
Here, you need to identify the precise skills and talents that need to be cultivated at your organisation, so that it can meet key business objectives. The way to do this is to conduct a leadership skills assessment.
You will achieve this by speaking with leaders to find out what they feel they need to be more successful, as well as gathering insights from staff teams regarding their leaders.
The requisite feedback can then be gathered through a range of different mediums: face-to-face feedback, administering questionnaires, email, and anonymous feedback.
- Develop a list of executive education objectives
Here, you will use the format adopted in the skills assessment as well as the feedback gained about the most needed skills in your company.
And from this you will draft a list of outcomes that you envision for your development plan.
- Identify the best methods to achieve your leadership action plan objectives
Some things you should consider when deciding upon your preferred method of execution of your leadership development plan objectives include: selecting the right content as well as the right training criteria. Be it group coaching, one-on-one coaching, in-person teaching, self-paced asynchronous training, or virtual classrooms.
You might perhaps find it more efficient to invite a third-party consultant that specifically deals in leadership development programs of your sort. They’re usually better equipped to quickly find the right content and formats for the training programme.
- Measure the effectiveness of your leadership development plan
It is vital that you have a precise criteria in place for measuring the eventual effectiveness of your leadership development plan.
Likewise, your employees are a vital asset in feedback analysis. Their sentiment will help you determine the overall progress of the departments in which the executive plan has been adopted.
Your Leadership Development Plan: a Useful Template
For a quick peek at how you should plan out your program, check out this template.
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