Create A 12 Month Leadership Development Plan

Every leader and high potential should complete a 12 month leadership development plan each year to help guide them through the actions necessary to take their career to the next level. Developing your leadership skills should be a continuous process, one that never ends even when you reach the corner office.

To get started, this blog will discuss the 3 main parts of a successful 12 month development plan and the next blog will give a few examples of a 12 month development plan. By taking the time to understand what goes into a successful development plan, you will be able to create one for yourself that will actually propel you forward in your career.

There are 3 main parts of an effective leadership development plan:


These are the main goals or outcomes you want to accomplish with your development plan. It is best to select 3 or 4 main objectives. They are usually the broad, umbrella goals that you are focusing on, such as:

  • Effectively transition leadership development from the external coach to the executive and his/her manager.
  • Specify the critical success factors required to meet the unit/function and position’s goals over the next 12 months.
  • Build a system that identifies multiple sources of feedback and learning required to sustain on-going development. save


Elements are the key components that create your development plan. They list out specific actions that are necessary to help you accomplish your goals and provide a complete picture of all that’s involved.

  • Unit/Functional vision (one that goes 3-4 years in the future).
  • Outline strategic initiatives for the role and unit, and tie them to the overall strategy.
  • Personal and business goals.
  • Develop plans for each initiative identified.
  • Leadership behaviors to stop, start and continue.
  • Identify leadership strengths to leverage for greater success.
  • Determine barriers or obstacles that need to be addressed.
  • Tie to the executive’s leadership strengths and goals.
  • Outline the key developmental opportunities that require on-going development and the plans to address each one (leadership challenges and opportunities to develop).
  • Get approval and buy-in from his/her manager for the plan.
  • Recruit advocates from team, peers and management to serve as feedback providers and coaches over the course of the year.
  • Determine measures of success.
  • Quarterly check-up dates.


Advocates are key stakeholders and/or a mentor who can be trusted. They are also motivated to provide on-going feedback and offer suggestions for change to the leader’s plan.

  • Advocates are best at the 360 degree levels: direct reports, peers and managers.
  • Recruit 4-5 advocates who agree to serve as feedback providers over the course of the year for your continued development.
  • Use the FeedForward process to help advocates be most effective.
  • Approach advocates at least quarterly for suggestions and recommendations on improving your leadership effectiveness.

Next week we’ll review some samples of a 12 month leadership development strategic plan so you will be able to create one to help guide you to career success.