How to create an effective leadership development plan

ByHanover Team
Posting date: 29 May 2024

In every industry, strong leadership is indispensable for driving growth, innovation and managing conflicts. Today’s competitive and capricious markets demand quality leaders who adapt to changes rapidly and chart a course for success. Still, 76% of HR leaders report that managers are overwhelmed, and 73% believe their leaders aren’t prepared to spearhead change.


These findings highlight the importance of crafting a leadership development plan. This is more than a way for individuals to strengthen their careers. It’s a tactical way for businesses to stay ahead by molding adaptive leaders who inspire growth across all levels of the organization. 

Assessing organizational needs and objectives 

To create an effective leadership development plan, you first need to assess your organization’s needs and goals. Introspecting helps you pinpoint areas where leadership is most pivotal and what qualities you need in your leaders to meet objectives.


For example, if one of your goals is increasing market share in a competitive industry, you need strong strategic thinkers who capitalize on opportunities. Alternatively, if you want to increase employee engagement, nurture your leaders’ emotional intelligence (EI) skills, which are proven to make employees 58% more focused.


Assessing leadership qualities and organizational objectives requires you to conduct a thorough needs assessment. This involves deploying a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, like surveys, performance assessments and focus groups, in order to gather valuable feedback. With this data, you’ll be able to identify any skill deficiencies, tailor your initiatives to bridge that skills gap and optimize your entire development plan for leadership.

Defining clear leadership development goals 

Once you know your organization’s needs, you can define actionable leadership development goals. Align these with both individual career aspirations and organizational objectives so that leaders stay engaged while pursuing desired outcomes. 


Goals should include honing some essential qualities that make exceptional leaders, such as becoming an active listener, pursuing continuous learning and practicing transparency. Whatever they are, your leadership development goals must be specific and measurable so that you can track progress, see what is and isn’t working, and course-correct as needed.

Customizing leadership development strategies 

Remember that everyone possesses different strengths, weaknesses and learning styles. If you force everyone to follow the same path in the same way, you’re more likely to end up with a bench of half-baked leaders or, worst of all, deter your best talent from wanting to lead.


The roadmap to leadership thus requires a fluid approach, emphasizing the obligation organizations have to customize their development plan for leadership.


Doing so accommodates a diverse mix of training styles, including formal executive leadership training, informal learning opportunities, like stretch assignments, and mentorships that provide personalized guidance.


Catering to a diverse range of preferences nurtures individual strengths while exposing burgeoning leaders to experiential learning opportunities, ensuring they receive a well-rounded education.

Investing in ongoing education and training for executives 

The journey of becoming a good leader doesn’t end with completing training programs or earning a promotion. Actually, it never ends at all.


Leadership development is a lifelong process that demands ongoing education. Organizations that recognize this have a leg-up on the competition, strengthened by leaders who can adapt quickly and intelligently to sudden changes.


Investing in executive education, like workshops, executive coaching or advanced degrees, gives your leaders the opportunity to expand their skills, deepen their knowledge and stay abreast of emerging leadership trends. 


Networking is also a powerful tool for ongoing leadership development. Budding leaders should be encouraged to attend conferences and build relationships with industry peers so that they can gain new perspectives and keep the organization evolving alongside the industry.


Investing in executive leadership training also necessitates a culture of continuous learning - not just by providing resources for professional development, but also by promoting experimentation, open communication and knowledge-sharing. 

Measuring leadership development success 

Measuring leadership development success is critical to the continuous improvement cycle. Without clear benchmarks, it's impossible to gauge the effectiveness of your efforts. By embracing a data-driven approach, you ensure that your strategies deliver results while sustaining growth.


Progress assessments, peer feedback and key performance indicators (KPIs) are pivotal to understanding the efficacy of leadership development plans:

Progress assessments regularly evaluate a leader’s performance against predetermined development goals, tracking improvements over time

Soliciting input from peers through surveys, interviews or 360-degree feedback assessments helps gauge leadership effectiveness or weaknesses 

Identifying metrics or KPIs aligned with organizational goals, like engagement, retention rates or productivity, allows you to measure the impact of leadership development initiatives on overall organizational success

Contact Hanover to learn more about how our firm can assist in the design and implementation of your leadership development plans 

As organizations strive to stay ahead of the curve and navigate an increasingly complex landscape, they must empower their leaders to rise to the occasion. 


By identifying business needs, aligning these with development goals and offering tailored learning opportunities, organizations can create an effective leadership development plan that yields tangible results and sustainable growth. 


Hanover understands the intricacies of leadership development across diverse industries. We help organizations create bespoke strategies that empower leadership, align with overarching objectives and unlock new levels of success. 

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