Creating Robust Individual Development Plans

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“Leadership is unlocking people’s potential to become better”

– Bill Bradley

In our last blog, the first of the three in our series on Building Leadership Capital, we spoke about setting developmental goals by identifying the individuals’ strengths and development areas. The next step in leadership development, is creating an effective individual development plan which is aimed at achieving the development goals.

The Individual Development Plan (IDP) process is a commitment by the organization towards the individual’s growth, the individual’s commitment towards his/her own development and the supervisors’ support to successfully drive the plan. A tripartite agreement on the development goals and the development plan is the foundation to successful implementation of IDPs.

Research suggests that High Potential employees are 91% more valuable to an organization than others. Therefore, it is critical to identify and develop the high potentials for market capitalization of an organization. In our 20 years of experience in the field of leadership development, we have seen that IDPs become ineffective if

  • The plan is generic
  • Does not address the real concerns or core development areas of the leader and
  • Is not engaging for the developing leader

A successful IDP must consider the leader’s career goals, linkage to business outcomes, aspirations and  strong buy-in to his/her development needs. Only when the individual can visualize his/ her growth path via the development plan, and its linkage to the business goals  will the leader commit to his/her own development plan.

The second, crucial aspect to ensure successful IDP implementation is the supervisory support and alignment. Leadership potential must be systematically identified and tracked by line managers as part of the overall strategic planning process. Success in developing the future pipeline of leaders and supporting the high potential leaders to take on higher leadership role entails a talent management system in which selection, development, performance management, succession and career management processes are aligned, reviewed and supported by senior management. An agreement on the IDP and regular review of the implementation of strategic projects is essential. Mid-course support, coaching and mentoring to the developing leaders by the supervisors is important.

At InspireOne, we support the leadership development process by ensuring supervisory alignment to the development journey right from the beginning. The supervisory involvement streamlines the development process through regular reviews and monitoring, and nudges the leaders in the direction of organizational vision.

To enable all stakeholders to be aligned while implementing action learning projects , we use an online platform Supernova ALP. The tool helps developing leaders to remain focused on the development goals and the actions to be taken. The supervisors can use this information to give their feedback and regularly coach and monitor progress of their reporting leaders. The process owner (usually the L&D) can use the data and information to get a sense of how  the process is working for all the leaders participating in a learning process.

Supernova™ ALP provides:

  • A link between the participant’s Learning Objectives & Business Objectives
  • Wide range of behavioral competencies from which to select, apply and improve
  • A virtual learning buddy who shares highly contextualized and customized content with the participants, that will ensure continuous application of learning on the job
  • Visibility and Feedback from the Supervisor

 The third vital element is the ecosystem support or the organizations commitment towards the high potential development. Every employee in the organization works towards achieving organizational business goals. Therefore, a successful IDP must be linked  to the organizations strategic vision, goals and values.

In recent times, organizations support towards the IDP process has evolved. Large conglomerates are now walking the path of conducting conclaves with the objective of sharing

  • The organizational vision
  • Aligning the leadership development process to it
  • Developing an understating of the elements of a good IDP
  • The organizational support in the development process

As leadership development is based on the principle of 70:20:10 or the 3E’s, the options of the 3E is discussed during the conclave and the leader has visibility towards the path s/he can chose for his/ her development.

CEB research shows that turnover for high potentials has been rising for the past few years. Another study by Global Leadership Forecast 2018 study suggests that there has been continued slippage in leadership bench strength and in 2018 only 14% of companies had a strong bench suggesting an increased need for effective leadership development programs. Digitalization and constant threat of disruption also has a profound impact on the need for robust development plans.

Therefore, people and functions responsible for  people development will have to evolve their  leadership development process to address the needs of high potential leaders and the environment they will operate in. And creating an effective IDP is the backbone to it.

“As the planet becomes smarter and more connected, every organization’s success will depend on having the best leaders for tomorrow-from front line to executives. Leadership development is a top business priority. We need leaders who innovate, enable our clients’ success, and embrace the opportunities and challenges of the global marketplace.”

– Ted Hoff, Vice-President, Center for Learning & Development, IBM Corporation, 2011


Caprino, K. (2018, Feb). The Changing face of leadership . Retrieved from Forbes:

Leadership Development at IBM. (2012). Retrieved from ICMR India:

Ready, D. (April , 2015). MIT Sloan Executive Education innovation@work Blog. Retrieved from MIT Executive Education :

Scott, C. L. (2016, June). How To Implement the 70-20-10 Principle for Leadership Development. Retrieved from

The Manager’s Resource Handbook. (2015, Feb). Retrieved from


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