Leadership Development Plan

What is a Leadership Development Plan? It’s an intentional process for developing high-potential leaders in your business, incentivizing their long-term commitment with profit-sharing, and laying the groundwork for your eventual succession.

Why is a Leadership Development Plan important? An LDP creates a pathway to Freedom and Lifestyle for a business owner and does not leave to chance how subordinate leaders are identified, developed and groomed. When leadership is based purely on seniority and ignores merit and capability, growth and success will be stunted at best and business failure is possible at worst.

To be clear, there is a big difference between becoming a leader yourself and developing leaders in your organization. It is much more complex and involved to develop leaders and way more than simply picking someone and assuming they are going to become what you want. I heard Jim Collins (author of Good to Great and more) on a podcast where he said something I completely agree with, namely that “leadership cannot be taught but it can be learned”.

A bit of a warning; this is a very complex subject and so this blog post is fairly lengthy and still only scratches the surface of the matter but it will give you some great insights and ideas and does offer a step by step process at the end to creating an LDP for your business.

I have another blog post called the Leadership Continuum that is worth reviewing. In this post I discuss the different stages of development leaders grow through. This is important because to develop leaders, you first must be far enough along the Continuum. I would suggest that you need to be somewhere between a Self Aware Leader and a Leader of Leaders to be able to effectively start to develop other leaders.

After I introduce you to a few key strategies to create your LDP I will address how you do all this and it is as simple as using a Leadership Development Plan Worksheet. I will come back to this later.

A great book to read is The Leader's Greatest Return - Attracting, Developing, and Multiplying Leaders by John Maxwell. Maxwell is widely acknowledged as one of the greatest authors on all matters Leadership. In this book he walks you through a 10-step process to attract and develop leaders. Here is a quick overview of these steps.

Step #1 - Identify. Job #1 in developing great leaders is to find them so you can develop them. It takes a leader to grow another leader.

Step #2 — Attract. The best way to attract great leaders is to have open seats at the leadership table of your organization. Make it clear people can earn a seat at the table.

Step #3 — Understand. Before you can ever hope to lead people, you need to connect with them. Find common ground before you try and impart your wisdom. It won't work the other way around.

Step #4 — Motivate. Every leader wants to know how to motivate their people. The best way to do that is to inspire and help people find their own motivations. Spark them and then get out of their way.

Step #5 — Equip. You have to equip your emerging leaders with a road map for the journey to excellence. If you do that, compounding returns will come into play.

Step #6 — Empower. One of the most powerful things you can do is empower others to lead out. If you release the leaders you develop to reach their potential, amazing things can result.

Step #7 — Position. The only thing more powerful than an empowered leader is a group of empowered leaders working as a team. There's almost nothing they can't do.

Step #8 — Mentor. Mentoring always helps you go further, faster, and more successfully than you could on your own. Mentor one leader and you can add value to dozens of others.

Step #9 — Reproduce. The only thing limiting the growth of your organization is your ability to produce more leaders. Get good at developing more effective leaders.

Step #10 — Compound. Everyone knows the 80/20 Rule. The longer you keep developing leaders, the greater your competitive advantage becomes. Never stop growing leaders. 

One of your greatest challenges will be to identify potential leaders in your organization and one of the tools you can use to help you with this is profiling. In another post I introduce and discuss the use and value of Psychometric Profiling for hiring and you can use the same strategies to calibrate your Leadership Development Plan. You may not need to do this in all cases, but it is another arrow in your quiver, especially when you have many potential leaders to choose from.

In one of his first books, Developing the Leader Within You, Maxwell talks about the fact that leaders go through 5 stages in their evolution as a leader in an organization: position, permission, production, people development, and pinnacle.

  1. Position. At the position level in an organization, people follow leaders because they have to, because the leader has the right to make people follow.
  2. Permission. This is where the leader has built relationships with his or her followers, and people are now following because they want to.
  3. Production. This is where people are following the leader because the leader gets results; people follow because of what the leader has done for the organization.
  4. People Development. Here, people are following because of what the leader has done for them. So the leader has reproduced his or her skills and abilities in people and has developed the people, and there’s a certain level of loyalty and affection that follows.
  5. Pinnacle. This is the highest level of leadership It is based on respect, where people follow the leader because of who that leader is and what that leader represents.

I recommend you read The Work of Leaders by Straw, Scullard, Kukkonen, and Davis. The authors looked at leadership research from over three decades and identified three best practices of accomplished leaders, namely crafting a vision, building alignment and championing execution.

Each of these skills has a set of subskills, so when you want your leaders to know how to craft a vision, that means teaching them how to explore ideas, boldly advance ideas, and test assumptions by seeking counsel. To build alignment requires developing clarity on a plan, dialoguing with stakeholders, and being inspiring in whatever direction is being proposed. Lastly, a great leader champions execution by being responsible for driving momentum, building a structure and providing feedback to the rest of the team!

Vision, alignment and execution skills can be measured. You should have each of your potential leaders complete a Work of Leaders profile. That will give you a diagnostic of their leadership skills individually and as a team, then put them through a developmental plan to help them manage effectively.

This brings us to a book that has been revolutionary and ground-breaking in the field of leadership theory. This book is called The Flip Side by educator, psychotherapist, and New York Times best-selling author, and entrepreneur Flip Flippen. In this book, Flip develops what he calls the Theory of Personal Constraints or Personal Constraint Theory. 

Personal Constraint Theory is a remarkable way of understanding how people improve and develop over a lifetime. By definition, Personal Constraints are those behavior patterns that hold us back. The theory maintains that if we go throughout our lives without a deliberate plan to overcome our personal constraints, or the behavior patterns that hold us back, we will never achieve all that we could achieve in our lives. On the other hand, if we undertake a process of deliberately identifying our constraints and then deliberately removing our constraints, it creates an immediate increase in our performance

In his book, Flip identifies what he calls the Top 10 Killer Constraints, the 10 common behavior patterns that hold people back. Here they are:

  1. Bullet Proof: Overconfidence: too much faith in their own abilities and opinions.
  2. Ostriches: Low Self-Confidence: too little faith in their own abilities and opinions.
  3. Marshmallow: Overly Nurturing: too kind, not holding people accountable.
  4. Critics: Too Critical, Harsh: too overbearing and forceful with their opinions.
  5. Icebergs: Low Nurturing: too detached, not displaying enough warmth and care.
  6. Flat-liners: Low Passion, Drive: not driven enough, not intense enough.
  7. Bulldozers: Too Dominant: too hard-charging and forceful with others.
  8. Turtles: Resistant to Change: too committed to the status quo and inflexible.
  9. Volcanoes: Aggressive, Angry: too hot-headed and reactionary.
  10. Quick Draw: Low Self-Control, Impulsive: too given to following their feelings.

Having reviewed this list, I’m sure that it’s obvious why the faster someone identifies and breaks the constraint that is holding them back from optimizing and increasing their leadership effectiveness, the faster they will grow in their influence with others.

How can someone pinpoint exactly what their top constraint is and how to work on it? Well that’s where Teamalytics comes in. Flip Flippen founded a company called Teamalytics. Teamalytics works with Fortune 500 companies, Private Equity Groups and Professional sports teams. Their enterprise clients include Kaiser Permanente, LinkedIn, Johnson & Johnson, and Procter & Gamble to name just a few. The mission of Teamalytics is to use analytics and coaching to help teams eliminate counterproductive behaviors, hit goals, have fun, and earn more.

They use a psychometric instrument they’ve developed, called the Teamalytics 360 Report, which reports the 13 scales of behaviors that correlate to leadership effectiveness. The 360 Report also identifies the top 3 personal constraints, those behaviors that are holding leaders back from maximizing and growing leadership effectiveness. Further, the Teamalytics 360 Report makes specific recommendations for a highly personalized growth plan for the leader to overcome his or her constraints. It prescribes specific steps to modify behavior, called Traction Steps, which help leaders know exactly how to behave their way into more effective leadership.

The Teamalytics profile is regarded as one of the most sophisticated psychometric instruments on the planet because of its remarkable level of precision. When compared to other 4 or 16 quadrant instruments that measure personality such as the DISC and Meyers-Briggs, the Teamalytics Profile is in another league with more than 1.2 Million unique combinations. This allows a very high level of analysis and prescription for personal growth. To download a specification sheet and sample profile go to https://www.teamalytics.com/

The LDP Process. Here is a recap of what you need to do to create a Leadership Development Plan for your business.

  1. Review my blog post The Leadership Continuum
  2. Read Dr Maxwell’s book (or at least get the 30 minute book review from Summaries.com) The Leader's Greatest Return - Attracting, Developing, and Multiplying Leaders
  3. Read The Work of Leaders by Straw, Scullard, Kukkonen, and Davis or at least review the information on the profiling where you can download a brochure and a sample 23-page report. Click Here.
  4. Read The Flip Side by Flip Flippen or spend some time on his website at https://www.teamalytics.com/ to learn more about Constraint Theory and the Teamalytics 360 Report.
  5. Create a simple LDP Worksheet with the following columns for each potential leader you identify in your organization
    1. Name
    2. Current leadership status based on The Leadership Continuum
    3. Work of Leaders Development Focus
    4. Teamalytics Personal Constraints
    5. Personal Growth Plan in as much detail as possible
  6. Depending on the individual you may also need to put together an Apprenticeship Plan to ensure they have all the skills necessary (beyond their leadership development growth plan) to be effective in the role or roles you envisage for them. Review the blog post on the Apprenticeship Plan here.
  7. Implement a ‘pay for performance’ incentive plan to create long term commitment by your subordinate leaders. There are many ways of doing this from a quarterly or annual bonus structure, profit sharing or even shares in the company the key is that if it is really performance based you must have clear and quantifiable ways to measure the performance. I recommend you identify 4-6 Key Performance Indicators that you can review with the subordinate leader on a regular basis.

This post has a lot of information, advice and action items and is a lot to take in. If you would like to have a chat with me about how to put this in place in your business feel free to reach out by scheduling a short call by clicking the button below. Have a fantastic day.