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Leadership Development Plan

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Being able to perform as a good and effective leader is an essential task for many people. It does not include only country leaders, business managers, or superiors. Good leaders are required almost everywhere: in families, groups of friends, musicians or artists, in the neighborhoods and so on. Leadership is an utterly important skill for a person. In case a person wants to develop leadership skills, there is a need to create a plan for that. This paper discusses this plan, following these steps:

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  1. Defining what leadership is and what leadership competencies exist;
  2. Selecting a leadership model to follow;
  3. Identifying personal strong points that will be helpful in becoming a good leader;
  4. Creating a leadership developing plan;
  5. Analyzing this plan in accordance with the opinions of established leaders.

Defining these steps is essential on the way of becoming a good leader because they help determine and analyze strong and weak points of oneself as well as the way to use these points within the chosen leadership model. Certainly, what one is able to give others as a prominent leader is a matter of great importance. Therefore, leadership theories and practices need to be taken into account thoroughly and creatively.

Leadership and Leadership Competences

Leadership is usually defined as a process of social influence on other people in which a person is able to organize a group in order to achieve a common goal (Chemers, 1997). A good leader should also be able to influence his or her group in a correct way, namely not by controlling and commanding them, but by encouraging, directing, guiding, and supporting them. It can be done with or without formal authority (Chemers, 1997). A leader should also have certain values and be a good visionary. There are various leadership theories and styles which have been developed throughout the history of humanity. Some of them prove to be effective and are being used by effective leaders. For example, leadership styles, which determine the way a leader behaves and carries his/her functions can be divided into authoritarian, paternalistic, democratic, and laissez-faire (Riley, 2012) styles.

Leadership competences are leadership skills and behaviors contributing to superior performance (SHRM, 2008). It is undoubted that using a competency based approach helps to identify and develop next generation of leaders in organizations. Leadership models, in their turn, are theories or ideas on how to lead people effectively (Scouller, 2011). Sometimes, competency model are divided into such groups as core, leadership and professional competencies (NWLink). In this case, core competencies include essential personal skills required on all levels, such as communicating, teamwork, creative problem solving, self-direction, flexibility, professionalism, and so on. Leadership competencies are defined as skills needed to drive an organization. They include vision process, ability to create and lead teams, handle conflicts, involve employees in the work process, coach others, and so on. Professional competencies are the knowledge needed to direct systems that a leader controls, such as adult learning, consulting and instruction (NWLink).    

In general, there are eight skills required for a leader. They are integrity, visioning, results focus, judgment, optimism, team building, care for others, and accountability (Arneson, 2008). Other skills that can be included in the list are service and quality orientation, adaptability, and risk management (Drypen, 2009). By looking at a person’s competencies and skills and comparing them to the skills required for a leader, one can determine whether a person is able to become a good leader or not and whether it is possible to develop these skills (SHRM, 2008).

There are various competency models. For example, Hollenbeck, McCall and Silzer developed an approach based on opposing views and assumptions, which are referred to as wrong ones, such as independence of characteristics, single set of competencies, and so on. Chung-Herrara, Enz and Lankau created a model taking knowledge skills and abilities needed for performance into consideration. Boyatzis focuses on the emotional intelligence. Ardochivili& Manderscheid review the foundation leadership theories. Ready, Conger and Hill think that behavior often gets more noticed than performance (RMIT, 2008).

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Central Michigan University (CMU), which was founded in 1892 and is referred to as a high-rank university (Education Colleges), also created a model that determines such skills as self-management, leading others, task management, innovation and social responsibility as key competencies of a leader. Each of them is also sub-divided into categories. For example, self-management, which is significant since one always needs to start from oneself, is divided into work habits, work attitudes, stress management, self insight and learning; while leading others means communicating, interpersonal awareness, motivating, influencing and developing others. Task management includes executing tasks, solving problems, enhancing performance, managing information and human resources. Creativity, integrating perspectives, forecasting and change management are referred to innovation; and social knowledge, ethics, integrity, and civic responsibility stand for social responsibility (RMIT, 2008; Bapat et al; CMU).

CMU has a goal to develop good leaders because leadership is important for growth, change, and renewal. Leaders need to take advantage of their innate talents and use them developing leadership skills. Thus, the CMU model provides a rather thorough view on the way leadership competencies should look. It is given as a draft, which can be found on the university website (CMU). This model will be taken into consideration in the paper due to the fact that it gives a good view on the way leadership competencies should look like. In addition, according to surveys, people consider the following qualities as the one of a perfect leader: communicating, vision, empathy, confidence, values, and optimism (Comey, 2004). They are all embraced by the CMU leadership competency model.

Choosing a competency model is an important step. It helps to summarize the experience of other leaders, specifies a range of behaviors, and outlines a framework that can be used in a development plan. The competencies provide a clear guidance for the performance of a leader to become more effective (Hollenbeck, McCall and Silzer, 2006). The CMU model answers all the requirements and gives an insight on the way an effective leader should behave. Therefore, it can be taken as a key model in the present paper.

Me as a Leader and the Leadership Development Plan

I have already had an experience of being a leader when I was a guide organizing camping activities such as campfire and events planning. It was a great experience in trying to lead others. Based on my experience, I can determine the following strong points in me that can help in becoming an effective leader. I am responsible, outgoing, independent, optimistic, open and full of energy. I like to lead and teach others and to communicate with people. I am able to balance very well between work and life and I think that it is important for a leader to be able to listen to other people’s ideas and feedback, which I am able to do as well.

What I would like to develop my leadership skills for is to open a café. I would be an owner and a leader of this café and have a team of employees. If this comes true, I will be glad to use my characteristics of a good leader, developing new ones and cooperating with my employees as one team. Moreover, I currently study business management and would like to use the knowledge I get on the course as well.

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There are various leadership theories, such as situational leadership, servant leadership, authentic leadership, and so on. They are different in some points. For example, situational leadership theory is considered to be a classical one, telling about adapting leadership style to the needs of a leader and of employees. Servant leadership is about taking care of people around. Authentic leadership theory tells about the ways to lead people in a way that is true for oneself instead of creating a perfect set of leadership characteristics (Great Leadership). A leader’s functions and skills are examined in all theories and models. Moreover, they all include such skills as the ones determined by the CMU model. For example, being able to motivate, influence and develop others and executing tasks, solving problems, enhancing employees’ performance, managing human resources and other skills are essential for a leader.

In my case, I already possess some of these qualities and am willing to develop the other ones as well, so I can create a leadership development plan. My values include people and relationships, respect, trust and empathy. I believe that they are utterly important for a leader and that it is necessary to develop them constantly and apply them in the workplace, at home and everywhere else. I would not like to become just a perfect leader with the whole set of skills. Instead, I would like to learn from the experience and from communicating with other people (employees and customers) about the ways to lead more effectively and perform better.

Therefore, I would not wait until my set of qualities become perfectly similar to the one an effective leader should have and open a café at the first opportunity and start doing my best in developing the necessary skills and apply them on practice. What motivates me to do that is the fact that I will lead people in the best way I can do it and create good conditions for them. Moreover, I will listen to them, to their ideas and remarks and involve them in an active work process and in the development of myself as a leader. I hope that they will be able to always speak frankly to me about my advantages and disadvantages as a leader, so I could constantly develop myself.

A role model of a good leader for me is my father. He is an effective leader not only at work, but also at home. Both my mother and me listen to him and respect him. He, in his turn, also gives us opportunities to express ourselves and takes our opinions and suggestions into account. Therefore, I have told him about the leadership plan I developed and asked his opinion about it. I wanted him to tell what is right and what is wrong in the way I am going to lead my employees. He liked my plan and also added some suggestions. Namely, he advised to also remember about the importance of delegation, which means entrusting some of the tasks to others. Since one person is not able to do everything on their own, an ability to delegate responsibilities can be helpful. Moreover, it also displays a leader’s trust to the employees, which is utterly important in the relationship. Therefore, I memorized his advice and will apply it in my leadership experience.

I will certainly use the skills and experience I got when I used to be a camp guide. It was a creative job, and leading others requires creativity as well. Therefore, I will achieve the goals set by my plan by constant communication and cooperation with employees. I believe that if I am open with them, they will be open with me as well and will make me a better leader by applying the skills set by the CMU model. In the meantime, by the degree of their openness and the ease of our communication, I will determine whether the plan I determined for myself works or not. In case something works worse than I expected, I will do my best to improve that.

Obviously, being an effective leader is not an easy task. One needs to learn a lot and have a rich experience to perform well in this role. However, it is clear that people are not born leaders, but can develop their skills to become ones. Therefore, the most important steps on the way to start leading others effectively are to have a desire to do it, to choose a good competency model, and to stick to personal values and principles. In this case, a person is able to reach his/her goal and become an effective leader sooner or later.

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