personal.development.marthaWhen is the last time you set aside time to reflect and plan for your OWN career development? Can’t remember? Been too long?

Well, maybe this fun fact from the Corporate Leadership Council (CLC) will give you that needed nudge. According to CLC, the use of Individual Development Plans (IDPs) increases the effectiveness of leadership development by about 65%!  That’s huge!

Here’s why:

  • Going through the process of creating a plan, forces you to take the time to actually THINK about your career aspirations and assess what types of development experiences are needed to get there.
  • Documenting your plan with action items is just like writing down any other type of goal – when we put goals in writing, they are more likely to be met. I suppose that documentation adds a bit of accountability and therefore, we are more apt to take action to make those goals a reality.

So are you ready to take this on?  Here is a simple process you can follow to create your own IDP:

Gather feedback on your current performance – leverage a 360 that is offered by your company OR if that option is not available to you, begin by asking for feedback from your boss, peers, direct reports and any others with whom you work closely. Let’s be clear, you’re likely to get more candid feedback via confidential 360 assessment, but remember that simply asking for feedback is always good and sends a positive signal that you’re genuinely interested in personal development. Asking something as simple as, “What should I Stop/Start/Continue to improve my leadership effectiveness?” can produce relevant suggestions that are top of mind from the person you are asking.

Do a bit of self-assessment and analysis – think through some questions about your career aspirations and assess how you’re doing against those aspirations.  Here are some questions to prompt your analysis:

  • In what situations was  I proud/not proud of my leadership abilities in the last month?  Why?
  • When I think of someone who I think is an exceptional leader, how would I describe them?  What characteristics make them a good leader?
  • What do I want to be doing in 3-5 years?  What career level is that?
  • What experience do I want to have had in the next 1-2 years?
  • How do I want my direct reports/teammates to describe my leadership style?

Compare your as-is (feedback received) vs. desired state (referencing answers to questions in step 2) and develop a plan to close the gaps.

  • Are there any key themes you heard?
  • Any similarities or variances by rater group to consider?  Do these differences concern you?
  • What development areas, if improved, could contribute the most to improving your effectiveness as a leader?

Document your Development Plan – if you don’t have a template that is recognized within your company you can easily create a plan that covers things like the following:

The reality is, no one cares more about your career than you do.  So take control by making time for yourself – focus on your own development and see what a difference it can make!

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