Summary: This article covers the process for selecting and prioritizing what to develop for individual or leadership development plans.

How do you choose what areas to focus your development plan on?

Knowing where to focus your professional development and leadership development efforts is often the hardest part of development.  You can’t and shouldn’t try to develop more than one or two things at a time.  Choosing the right skills, competencies, or behaviors to target is critical because choosing the wrong targets means time and effort wasted, while focusing on the right skills and behaviors will provide an incredible ROI on your development efforts.  

Steps for determining the best focus areas for your development plan:

  1. Take in a variety of inputs including data, feedback, and career aspirations 
  2. Prioritize the areas or skills that will have the most payoff if improved
  3. Create a development plan

1. Consider these inputs when determining what to focus your development on:

  • Feedback from performance management or development processes or discussions
  • Organic feedback from colleagues, peers, subordinates, and your manager
  • Feedback you’ve asked for or collected
  • Self-assessments or 360 feedback assessments
  • Behavioral interviews conducted by a coach with your colleagues about your strengths and development areas
  • Competencies you know you are average at and want to get better at or be the best at
  • Skills you know you’ll need for your next desired role

2. Prioritize your development areas

Once you have reflected and gather those inputs, then create a list of potential development areas.  Prioritize by considering:

  • Level of difficulty of developing that skill
  • Amount of time, effort, and resources you can dedicate to development
  • Are there root skills that if improved will lead to improvement in other areas (i.e., communication or self-awareness)

Based on this prioritization reflection, pick one to two areas to focus your development on for the next six months to year.  Don’t attempt to boil the ocean when putting your development plan together.  Limiting your focus areas to just a few will mean more progress on them in less time.

3. Create your plan

Move your 1-2 development focus areas into goals and plans by:

  • Drafting a development plan including SMART goals
  • Getting your manager’s input and support on the plan
  • Scheduling specific steps to achieve the goals
  • Working the plan and steps and checking in on the plan and your progress monthly
  • Stay tuned for future articles on key components of development plans

Picking the right focus for your development plan is time well spent.  Consider these factors and you will be on your way to focused and purposeful growth.

Let us help you determine which development focus might be most beneficial for you, your team, and/or organization.  Contact us.

Learn more about the benefits and types of leadership development in this article.

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