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Leadership development is a lifetime learning journey.  Effective methods that develop leadership skills include the well-known 70-20-10 approach, publicized by the Center for Creative Leadership, and utilized by many organizations and leaders.

This approach states that 70% of learning occurs on-the-job, learning by doing.  The 20% factor entails getting support and feedback from selected others about your demonstrated skills.  The 10% opportunity involves continuous formal learning through seminars, readings, etc.

Leaders take their steps for learning using these various opportunities by creating a tailored, individual leadership development plan.  This plan enables the leader to focus on what is most important.  The plan serves as a personal and professional ‘blueprint’ for specific skill building and incorporates the 70-20-10 approach.

Another key point to consider when building a development plan with clear goals and actions is to remember: your goals need to be valued by you, important and motivating; your goals need to be specific, defining the small action steps and behaviors you will start doing; and your goals need to be supported by your leader and other trusted colleagues who will provide feedback. See Setting Your Development Goals: Start with Your Values, by Bill Sternbergh and Sloan Weitzel. 

The following guide is an adaptation of June Merlino’s presentation, “Leadership Development Plan.”


Guide to Leadership Development Plans

Overview: How to Create Development Plans

What Resources Are Most Helpful for Leaders to Continue Learning?

  • Leadership development plans
  • Mentoring and coaching groups or communities

Engaging Perspectives: Aligning Development Goals

What do individual faculty need?

  • Teaching
  • Research
  • Service
  • Professional career tracks

What does the depart. need? 

  • Curriculum (new or emerging)
  • Research and publications targets
  • Service and leadership for UNC and community

What does the university need? 

  • New learning initiatives
  • Premier publications and research
  • Service and leadership for strategic initiatives

How Do Leaders Learn and Develop Leadership Skills?

  • 70% on the job (current role)
  • 20% feedback from people
  • 10% courses, seminars, and workshops

Development plans include actions for each of the 3-areas. 

Drafting Development Plans

For Goal and Benefits

Competency/skill focus with start/stop actions:

  • Self-reflections help to focus on the specific skills to develop.
  • Ask, “What are some causes that drive my behavior?”

For Goal and Outcomes

Competency/Skill focus with categories:

  • On-the-Job Actions, ongoing feedback, and learning programs