Leadership Development Plan: Formulation of a Personal Action Plan

Introduction

This paper talks about developing an individual Leadership Development Plan (LDP) reflecting the results and evaluation of the self-assessments completed during this course leading to a detailed SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats) analysis. The LDP this paper includes demonstrates a synthesis of relevant leadership theories explored leading to the formulation of a personal action plan that includes specific development activities, necessary resources, and target completion date.

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The LDP included herein integrates the theories examined and applies the tools from the course. This has led the paper, therefore, to examine the role of leadership in the writer’s profession or industry; synthesize contemporary leadership writings with classical leadership theory to determine their applicability and effectiveness in the writer’s profession or industry; benchmark the writer’s current leadership skills and behaviors against recognized leaders in business and industry; reflect the results of the self-assessment in the form of a SWOT analysis to describe accurately the current leadership ability and to identify future potential; develop a specific action plan to enhance strengths, overcome weaknesses, pursue potential, and mitigate risks. This action plan is hence detailed, as it includes specific action steps, necessary resources, and target completion dates to serve as milestones to measure improvement over coming months and years; and assess the implications of current leadership trends on your leadership development.

Background Analysis

There are many definitions of the word ‘leader’. He or she may be someone who knows how to make others work, get the task done, be accessible to his subordinates while also ensure that the quality and performance output of each is kept at the optimum. According to research, Leadership is a process by which a person influences others to accomplish an objective and directs the organization in a way that makes it more cohesive and coherent (Don Clark. 2008). About the industry at hand – military or army, leadership, is the process whereby a person influences those below or around him to set up an objective and achieve it. Under this type of behavior in the army, direction to an entire team as a whole is achieved, and aims are made clear through a path analysis laid down by the ‘leader’. Certain leadership qualities desire attention now, which play a humongous role in the implementation of this type of behavior. A few of these revolve around the person’s beliefs, personality traits, and knowledge, ability, and communication style, and value systems. A leader in an army also has the authority to lay down objectives and make people work to achieve them; the difference between a leader and his followers is in the concept of making people work and making them want to work for it. The latter here defines a characteristic of leadership behavior, as followers want to accomplish realized goals. (Clark D. R., 2008)

Leadership Models and Effective Leaders

Effective Leaders

Having defined what the term leader means, our discussion leads to an explanation of another phrase, this being about what and who are good or effective leaders? One thing is clear, good leaders are made. Along with the interplay of nature and nurture, nurturing a person makes him an effective leader. The basic equation needs desire and willpower to be able to learn through experience and institutional knowledge about the processes of effective leadership, to incorporate these in the daily workings at the workplace formally. Inspiration is the key to get to the higher levels in the hierarchy of an organization, even if it’s the army which is my profession. Through continual study and hard work can only be achieved to give oneself a round-up of that of a leader in the army as well.

The two main things about being an effective leader in the army revolve around building trust and having confidence in the subordinates or employees; and effective communication and deliverance of work-related messages well. (McKee A. and Boyatzis R., 2004) These two concepts have gained a lot of popularity since the continual growth in the desire to be effective leaders. These two broad criteria encompass the following pointers, which can be hence applied in the army:

  • Assisting soldiers in gaining an insight into the army’s objectives
  • Helping them out in gaining knowledge about what their roles are and will be in achieving those goals for the army
  • Having an open environment concerning information sharing so that all soldiers feel connected with the workings of the army as a team, and others around them (Clark D. R., 2008)

There are two main types of leadership models that are discussed to help people understand how typical leadership behavior is like. These two models tell us how important it is to adopt a contingency approach when dealing with everyday issues and realize that every unique circumstance needs a customized approach to problem-solving and work handling also exemplify it when it is the army we talk about. These two models namely are the four-framework approach and the managerial grid.

Four Framework Approach

According to the proponents of this theory, these being Bolman and Deal, leaders’ behavior ranges between the following kinds of behaviors: structural, human resource, political and symbolic. Hence each leader chooses the behavior he thinks is most appropriate in the situation that he is in.

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  1. Structural Framework: the focus here is on structure, approach, climate, execution, and adaptation.
  2. Human Resource Framework: the focus is here on empowerment and delegation to the subordinates.
  3. Political framework: here, leaders adopt the style of political leaders. They make it clear to everyone around them what they want and how to get it, and hence it becomes a task goal for everyone else as well.
  4. Symbolic Framework: here the leader is considered supreme the path for everyone. They realize and deliver their and the organization’s aim as an ultimate goal to be ‘conquered’ by all hence motivating everyone to follow them plays a huge role here.

The contingency approach plays a role in the army when we say that a leader or major in an army needs to be flexible to all these four kinds of frameworks and adopt each as per the situation he feels himself to be in.

Managerial Grid

Blake and Mouton came up with the Managerial Grid in 1985, which comprises the definition of four types of leaders. These are:

  1. Authoritarian Leader: this type of leader gives more importance to the work at hand more than people or employees doing that work. He or she makes sure that those schedules are followed, that daily aims are met; output is not sacrificed upon, and abhors mistakes. He does not much care about the personal development of each employee as long as the task gets done. This type is very much present in the army.
  2. Team Leader: a team leader takes care of both work and people doing it. He or she encourages an environment where everyone is comfortable and able to work together to uniformly and unitedly accomplish task goals while not compromising on personal development.
  3. Country Club Leader: such a leader maintains discipline while fostering the interpersonal relationships shared by each employee with each other.
  4. Impoverished Leader: such a leader is low on both, the task as well as care for people.

Research shows that a ‘perfect’ leader ranks nine on both people as well as task that is when he is a balance Team Leader. The contingency approach is said to apply here again as each leader style varies with the kind of environment or situation he finds himself in. (Blake, R. and McCanse, A., 1991)

Benchmark Analysis – Andrea Jung

Factors of Leadership and the Case of Andrea Jung’s Leadership style

Four factors of leadership can help explain the leadership – style of Andrea Jung. Andrea Jung is the Chairman and CEO of Avon Products, Inc. In a recent survey of the Wharton Women in Business Club, it was found out that Andrea Jung topped the list of ‘dream speakers’.

Follower

Many different leadership styles are there to fit any situation that a leader faces. Knowing the people who are ‘following the leader by a leader carries utmost importance. An employee’s needs, emotions, motivation level must be understood properly by the leader to fix situations well.

Leader

A leader must know his or her capabilities well and should know how to highlight his positives well to succeed. A leader must have a positive stance towards his followers so that they gain inspiration from him and follow him. An important discovery as shown by neuroscience is that when we consciously or unconsciously find out about people’s emotions, then we tend to mirror or mimic what that person does or is feeling like. Hence shared experience is created, giving immense importance to the concept of this leader-follower relationship. (Goleman D., and Boyatzis R., 2008)

Communication

Communication and efficient and effective delivery of messages to and fro is the most important thing in any field. However, when talking about leadership, then much of the communication that goes on here is nonverbal. ‘Leading by example, is the key component here henceforth much communication that is involved in the inspirational process is implicitly defined.

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Situation

Situations are all various and diverse inside an organization where the role of leadership is felt and accessible. A contingency approach works best with varying dilemmas in many situations. A leader has to use his or her cognitive abilities to best come up with a solution and find out answers that that particular situation inquires. The action that is taken in each situation hence forms the basis of success or failure of that leader in a specific situation that he or she finds himself or herself in. (Clark D. R., 2008)

Jung on citing anecdotes from her career explained her strategy about the expansion of products that took place at Avon and also talked about how important it is to become a great leader. According to Jung, when you are a leader you ensure that the responsibility is yours and you hence have to make sure that you are the first, and not the last. She terms this as ‘I am one of a few now, but I hope the list will get even longer in the future and you will all stand on our shoulders. Andrea very sincerely believes in the women in America reaching the top ladders in the corporate world there. In the next ten years, according to Jung, this ladder will increase its capacity further for all women of corporate America. (Knowledge at Wharton, 2005)

The vision that Andrea shares can be seen from her company Avon as well, where we see a huge percentage of women employees eagerly working for shared successes, efficiently. This is the reason why Andrea calls Avon – ‘The Company for Women’. Andrea considers business as empowerment when commenting on leadership. Andrea considers that women’s empowerment is so very essential since they deserve to be independent economically and financially. She says that everything needs to be growth-oriented and for the uplifting of the world’s market for women. This, she says can be done by keeping in mind the vision and mission of ‘It’s all about the people. Therefore, Andrea on a macro as well as on a micro-level always ensures that she as a leader provides enough opportunities for women to explore their capacities and be able to break the clutter. (Knowledge at Wharton, 2005)

Andrea Jung also says that leadership is all about getting the right people at the right time. Not being taken down by one’s ego and constantly looking for new ideas, fresh perspectives and people who are better than you is the key to good leadership practice. There should always be a greater sense of achievement in whatever that a leader does, according to Jung. (Knowledge at Wharton, 2005) There should also be work ethics at all levels set by the leader. Andrea also talks about leadership by saying that ‘have pride in which you are, no matter what you think business demands of you.’ Hence, she says she has never forgotten her culture and has altered herself for the better along the way, ‘but has never had to compromise herself.” (Knowledge at Wharton, 2005)

As a leadership example, Andrea also says that one should learn how to balance work and family well. She says that all leaders need to be passionate about what they do and should follow your compass, not your clock.” Also, she says that ‘It’s not worth it to take a job for money or a title and pretend you like the industry you’re in. Don’t do things because you think it’s time; do things because you love what you do’. Andrea hence talks about making sure that all leaders set their priorities right by ensuring that the most important meetings are not missed, be them family or work. (Knowledge at Wharton, 2005)

SWOT Analysis

Current leadership strengths

  • Diligent
  • Rich comprehension skills
  • A good relationship with subordinates

Weaknesses

  • Communication skills need work
  • Instructions are speedy but not very clear
  • Feedback should be respected more

Opportunities

  • Training opportunities available for effective communication

Threats

  • Getting replaced by colleagues for the position I am at in the army
  • Failure or delayed results of the project at hand in the army
  • Failure to be led over by my subordinates due to eventual loss of respect

Proposed Action Plan and Implementation Timeline: Perspectives on Leadership

This part of the paper sets out three separate guidelines that will are hence a part of the

Leadership Plan. These are three visions each that will be implemented by the writer to make sure that leadership development takes place.

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a) Leadership as a source of competition:

In the fast-changing world of today, we see growing competition and intensifying aims of reaching for the best. In the process, a lot of hurdles, obstacles, and de-motivators are faced with which pose a different picture to the initially motivated person. Leadership, and the desire to make it effective also fall somewhere here in the picture. This competition is a force that is driven by thousands of people aspiring to be good leaders to be successful at the workplace in that position. According to Kouzes and Posner (1987), one of the common steps in this driving force of competition called leadership is facing it all with a challenge. To be successful, they say that a leader himself needs the inspiration to make others get inspired by him. Inspiration should then lead to the realization of a vision that is to be shared by the whole organization to keep everyone at the same starting point in achievement there. In the process of being a good leader in the army, and while warding off competition in the form of other countries’ armies, a leader in an army needs to make sure also that others are acting fast and diligently also. He or she needs to encourage people and lay down a model path for everyone to follow. (Kouzes, J. and Posner, B., 2008).

In a study carried out by these two called the leadership practices inventory (LPI), leadership behaviors were tested and rated. In the areas of educational institutions, where decision making was followed by intense planning and leading by planned motives, policy formulation, communicating these to people, setting a budget, giving guidance, and taking care of the development of the staff also, these above ‘steps’ in the process were required and played a huge role. This is an example of how things go about in an educational institution. Henceforth, the importance of leadership and the driving force behind it, this being competition, there’s no room for slowing down. In the pursuit of excellence in education also, to ward off bad reputation indicators and to keep up with the competition, leadership again forms a very essential part of the entire process. (Don Leech and Charles Fulton, 2008)

b) Leadership as a door to success:

Leadership behavior is said to be held at a high position because it is displayed by few and praised by all. When such behavior is called to be a ‘door to success, then there are certain fundamentals in carrying out of this behavior that needs to be taken into perspective to meet success. Only knowing the tactic of the business that a person is in or in being proficient in the kind f work that a person does not make him a good leader automatically. It requires much more than that. A good leader is someone who is a great person at home, at work, to others, and to the community at large. A good leader needs to hence come up with a balance in his life to give all these things a certain value and maintain that to be successful. A good leader in an army can achieve his desired position by the following means:

– Be whole: He or she should act with integrity and respect the whole person.

– Be real: He or she needs to be faithful and truthful. Such a leader then has a good chance at prioritizing things for him and others for the better.

– Innovation: Creativity is another key to success as it gives the leader the option of fighting back challenges and hurdles through experimentation and giving of new ideas. (Friedman, S., 2008)

c) Leadership Behavior gives freedom and new strategies to the company in regards to the people/soldiers under him::

The development of human capacities and mutual respect is a very important factor when considering liberating one’s employees and coming up with strategies to deal with issues. It is quite common a thing at many workplaces to not liberate one’s employees or develop them through training and on-the-job experiences. There are no specific developments programs that can make these employees reach higher levels and explore their capacities.

Potential Impact of Current Trends

In contemporary times, it should be made clear that changes should be adapted speedily and effectively. In the fast world of today, such leadership also gains the company/ organization that adopts it an edge over other companies that do not. Shedd and Bacharach (1991) found out that such involvement of employees in the internal and even top-level workings of an organization leads to increased productivity, higher motivation levels, greater employee commitment, lower absenteeism and turnover for the organization, and makes them feel more important and respect in the organization by creating within them the feeling of shared determination to work together for the organization much better. (Kydd, L., Crawford, M., Riches, C., 1997) Similarly, these results can be applied to the army as well.

In the world of economics also leadership’s role is exemplified implicitly through the works of Amartya Sen, J. Elster, etc. Leadership according to them facilitates the development of employees through inculcating into them hope and aspiration, which has a positive effect on employee commitment. Social meetings and communication are also affected by how and when a leader sets professional meetings with his or her employees and this can be measured through the strength that an organization possesses and receptive its employees are in general. (Wallis, J., Dollery, B., and Crase, L., 2009)

As far as strategy-making solely goes, many challenges are faced by different armies to set these policies up. There is usually a gap between what an army’s leader thinks will happen and what usually happens. Reality checks regularly hence form the walls that make the army move ahead. The army’s leader – I as a leader hence need to develop and maintain a task force to counter these challenges well. Such a methodology is useful to adopt because it is a group of the most effective managers that are developed and trained through time. This group of task force members then presents their solutions through research and analysis to the senior management for approval and implementation. Again, henceforth development of human capacities is being undertaken hand in hand with strategy making and freedom. The senior army staff along with the task force then sits down and discusses the pros and cons of all solutions proposed, prioritizes things and matters, and structures the implementation path. Hence senior army members find it easier and leaders find themselves liberated to make decisions much easily through mutual discussion and examination. The motto is here that success is and can be derived from honesty and discussions with mutual respect and holding people in high esteem. (Beer, M., and Eisenstat, R., 2004) This is the kind of action plan that my plan needs to adopt.

A leader should hence definitely make sure that these programs are adopted and implemented because the development of human resources means the development of the organization. Such programs also enable companies to meet the needs of a competitive environment in which most companies function and operate today. This undertaking of programs and a right of all employees and should become a part of the skills that a leader possesses. From when to promote employees, to how to transfer them; from how to develop which characteristics to making them master their jobs, leadership plays a very important role. (HBSP, 2009)

Desired Future State

The following pointers have been included in my own LDP, which can eventually prove to be beneficial for me to put my leadership strengths at work effectively.

  1. Continuous improvement and self-appraisal: this means strengthening my positive points as a leader and eliminating or minimizing the negative ones.
  2. Ability to know the workings and functionality of my job well.
  3. Ability to be responsible: by making sure that a leader adopts a responsible attitude he is less prone to criticism and takes into account all his actions and mistakes etc. ‘Learning from mistakes’, is a part of this strategy.
  4. Ability to make logical decisions: Logical decisions should be made keeping an important factor- time into account
  5. Ability to lead by example: a component of being a leader is that you make others follow you through your actions and inspire them. This can only be done by setting a good example in front of everyone.
  6. Ability to practice ethics of care: A leader should also practice ethics of care towards his or her subordinates or employees at large because this also helps the leader gain followers through inspiration. Sincerely caring for one’s workers makes them feel more wanting of accepting work and finishing chores.
  7. Ability to have an open environment: An open environment, that of information sharing makes employees feel important and they do not feel isolated from the workings of the jobs that they are responsible for. It also gives them a feeling of closeness and attachment to the work that they are doing and the person at the top responsible for it, that is the leader.
  8. Ability to develop people’s capacities: A leader should also ensure that the personal characteristics of his or her employees are developed also through regular meetings and training sessions. This helps in the development of peoples’ capacities, which also is a responsibility to be partaken by a leader so that the door to success for him as well as the entire organization is opened.
  9. Ability to communicate effectively: Communication should be as effective as possible to leave no room for doubts or loopholes in the understanding of goals, tasks, procedures, etc.
  10.  A very important factor to meet with success through display and exercising of leadership behavior is the fact that all leaders should understand that they work in groups and not teams or departments etc. The main notion hence should be and is that a group is present that is responsible for the takes that they do, and hence training and guidance by the leader should also be given that way.
  11.  Ability to employ team spirit: Team spirit should be developed to instill in everyone that they are a prominent part of it and without them the team/group is incomplete (Clark D. R., 2008).

Conclusion

As this paper exemplifies, leadership is the kind of behavior that deals with the changing world of faster technologies and competition, and innovation. Major changes are necessary in the world of today to cope up with regular ‘updations and obsoletions’. It is also henceforth a matter of survival to develop and retain effective leaders who can cope with these changes and adapt accordingly to make the organization function much and much better. As these changes increase, the demand and need for leadership increase too (Kotter J., 2001).

Mobilizing an army to make it fit better in a competitive environment is hence paid a lot of attention to. Without such adaptability to changes, an army will falter. But when this change is met with a lot of resistance by the soldiers or subordinates, then distress is created within them. This is where again the role of leadership carries utmost importance as leaders make their soldiers feel more secure about their whereabouts and their jobs and instill in them confidence (Heifetz R. and Laurie D., 2001).

All in all, maintaining a sharp focus on effective strategy making and implementation carries a lot of importance. Research has shown that strategy, execution, culture, and structure carry a lot of importance and are stated to be the fundamentals of business. These are called primary management practices, which are techniques to excel in the workplace. These are the tactics that leaders in armies need to adopt and practice so that they meet with success (Nohria N., Joyce W., Roberson B., 2003).

References

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  3. Clark D. R. (2008) Concepts of Leadership. Web.
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  5. Don Leech and Charles Fulton (2008) Faculty perceptions of shared decision making and the principal’s leadership behaviors in secondary schools in a large urban district.
  6. Friedman, S. (2008) Total Leadership: Be a better leader, have a richer life. HBS Press Book. 3285, 272p.
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  13. Kydd, L., Crawford, M., Riches, C. (1997) Professional development for Educational Management (Leadership and Management in Education). Oxford University Press.
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  17. Wallis, J., Dollery, B., and Crase, L. (2009) Political Economy and Organizational Leadership: a hope-based theory. Review of Political Economy. Vol. 21 Issue 1, p123-143, 21p.
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