Great leaders are made, not born, and there is no single formula for what progress towards leadership really looks like. While this means that anyone can become a great leader, it also requires some planning. Whether you’re starting on the bottom rung of the ladder or you’re already in a leadership position, a personal leadership development plan is an essential way to define your leadership style and where you’d like it to take you. Here are the 7 stages of how to write your personal leadership development plan:

Stage 1 – Define leadership

What does a great leader mean to you? Think of the people you respect for their leadership and identify what it is that makes them so good at it, from abilities such as clear communication, to traits such as honesty.

Stage 2 – Practice self-awareness

Great leaders know who they are so any leadership plan needs to begin with a self assessment – what are your strengths, what needs work, how do others see you and what’s your leadership style?

Stage 3 – Identify your core values

These will underpin your leadership journey and provide the foundation for how you want to be perceived by others, from senior managers to those you lead. Pick 8 – 10 core values to define your leadership style, such as collaboration, creativity, humour, integrity, knowledge and self-respect.

Stage 4 – Define your vision

It can be useful to create a vision statement that sets out what kind of leader you want to be, what you’re hoping to contribute and the core principles or values that you’re going to use when it comes to decision making. Make sure this reflects how you want to be perceived and that it inspires and motivates you to move forward.

Stage 5 – How do others see you?

It’s never a good idea to get overwhelmed by the perceptions others have of you but it can be useful to see whether you’re perceived as you think you are. Find out what coworkers and colleagues think of you and see whether this fits with your self-image. Think about the general expectations of leaders in your field and even whether you care what others think. If who you feel you are doesn’t align with others’ views or expectations, do you have the resources or the inclination to change?

Stage 6 – Who are you as a leader right now?

This key stage is all about identifying the skills, qualities and experience for leadership and aligning them with your own experiences. Look at personal skills, interpersonal skills, group skills and technical skills. Identify those that are important, such as influencing and motivating (interpersonal skills) and budgeting and project management (technical skills). Make a list of those skills that you already have and those that require development.

Stage 7 – Set yourself development goals

With all this self-reflection and analysis you’re now perfectly placed to set goals for developing your leadership abilities and style. Use the SMART system (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely) and order your goals by importance.

Leadership can be honed and developed with the right focus and an understanding of who you are and what you want to achieve. Get in touch with Joanna Gaudoin to help you develop your qualities and work on your weaknesses.