The creation of a personal development plan is something almost every employee has gone through at some point or another. This is that time of the year when managers challenge their subordinates to create goals for themselves on a personal level that will better enable them to achieve their professional objectives. Being a better team player, seeking out opportunities, and increasing effort are all examples of the goals that can easily be found among the pages submitted to managers each year.
But what about senior management? What about when you’ve reached the top? You’re CEO. Is there really a need to build a personal development plan when you’ve already achieved the ultimate position in the organization? Absolutely. And, it should be the ultimate in personal development plans.
Why do I Need It?
The answer to this question is simple: As the leader of the organization, your development plan sets the tone and direction from which all personal development plans in the ranks below you will follow. For example, if you set a goal to increase the amount of face-to-face interaction and communication in an effort to breed trust and accountability, that is a goal each person throughout the organization will also need to work into his or her development plan.
Another reason, which is just as simple, is that it sets an example. Asking anyone to do something you’re not willing to do yourself does not impart confidence or trust. Plus, there is always room for continued growth and improvement, even at the top.
What Should it Include?
No one expects you to write a thesis. The point of the personal development plan is simply to identify the areas where you feel you could improve your personal character, attitude, and/or ability in order to reach higher and go further professionally. This is as simple as individual headings of managerial topics, followed by a bulleted list of goals and expectations. Topics can include anything from communication and organization, to leadership and feedback.
Here is an example:
To Provide “Exemplary” Leadership
- Clearly define mission, vision, and core values with each and every employee.
- Meet regularly with senior management to ensure goals are understood and are being met.
- Keep an open-door policy to address issues or concerns and provide further clarity.
- Be an example, daily.
In order to have the ultimate personal development plan, however, you must always include a goal that focuses on the development of others. A great leader understands that what makes him or her so is in large part due to those in support positions. Focusing on the development of leaders to come, not only strengthens your current position, but strengthens the organization and sets it up for future success. All great leaders recognize the strength in this personal trait.
Going the Distance
Once you’ve crafted your personal goals, the work has only just begun. In order to get the most from a personal development plan, you need to:
- Share it with others: Share your plan with senior managers. Not only will they need it to have a standard by which to develop throughout the rest of the company, doing so will keep you accountable.
- Commit to it and live by it: It does no good to put it on paper and walk away. Include only those goals you are committed to achieving and are doable in the short-term. Then stick to them and make them happen.
- Reassess and Refine: Periodically ask others to rate you on how you are doing in achieving your goals. At the top, you will be hard pressed to get reliable feedback about your progress without asking. Ask for anonymous feedback to ensure that you get the truth about your progress. Then… use it to refine and up the ante on your goals. Top flight leaders continually stretch to continue to grow.
- Lead by example: Everyone in the company is watching you. Even if that intimidates you, it should also motivate you to be the best possible version of yourself. Take your goals seriously and those who report to you will do the same.
“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” — George Bernard Shaw