The 4 components of leadership development

The 4 components of a Leadership Development Plan

The 4 essential components of a leadership development plan
(with examples)

There are 4 components of leadership development that must be built into every great leadership development plan. They provide the foundation for all solid leadership roles.

When you integrate these 4 elements into your leadership development plan, you ensure your leaders acquire, cultivate and improve their capacity to lead instinctively.  

What is leadership development? Establishing the 4 components of all leadership roles

Leadership and its development is an abstract concept that has been described in many ways. Even dictionaries differ on what it is.

To make leadership development a practical process, lets break it down into its most basic building blocks, like football coaches Bill Belichick and Vince Lombardi would do.

These 4 components of leadership development are the must-have building blocks of any great leadership roles.

Note: For more employee development plan examples try this resource.

Here are the 4 elements required to develop powerful leadership roles:

The four components of leadership development

If you research all the various definitions of leadership, you can group ‘leadership power’ into one of these 4 buckets:

  1. Position Power

  2. Influence Power

  3. Vision Power

  4. Advisor Power

Lets examine the definitions and use of each of these 4 components.

1. Position Power Coercion

The first and most basic form of leadership is “position power coercion.” Leadership power is derived through coercive control by nature of your position

This would include concepts such as authority, control, governance, management, head, chief, boss, director, top dog etc.

Because it is an easy power to abuse, many leaders use Position Power poorly. This can ruin relationships and sabotage leadership effectiveness.

2. Vision

The Vision component of leadership can be described as leading followers on a mission. Other descriptions include trailblazer, having prescience, ground breaker, frontrunner, futurist.

Having vision is the most underused of all leadership power. Those who have it and know how to use it, such as Elon Musk, are world renowned.

3. Influence

Influence is leadership through persuasion, motivation and charisma.

This includes empathy, pressure, encouraging, motivating, inspiring, manipulating, persuading, discouraging and to impel.

  • Influencers on social media: Online influencers are leaders in the sense that they develop a niche following based on their shared interests with followers, such as beauty, physical skills, musical talent, cooking skills, photography, religion, politics, crafts etc.

  • A large part of their leadership power is as Trusted Advisor.

4. Advisor

Trusted Advisor leadership is the hands-on skills of guidance, advising and mentoring.

It implies caring guidance.

Some advisors have Position Power built-in by nature of their title, such as CPA, Attorney etc. For purposes of this 4th component of leadership, advisor is used as someone with experience who is showing you the ropes.

Influencers on social media who show their followers “how to do” something are a good examples of the power of being a trusted advisor.

A useable definition of leadership

For the purpose of developing leadership roles from these 4 components of leadership, we can derive a definition.

A simple, practical definition of leadership might be:

  • Influencing your audience using various types of persuasion

Note: The term “audience” is used here to describe anyone and everyone the leader will interface with. This includes peers, subordinates, management, media, clients and customers.

Each audience may require a separate leadership role. 

Leadership development goals and objectives

You may want to start formulating your leadership goals by determining what rough percentage of each component you want to develop for each leadership role. 

For example a chief executive may use more influence and advising, while a line supervisor may need to use more coercion to carry out their leadership roles.

You can use your own metrics here, but a let’s say a reasonable percentage breakdown of leadership development goals might be to build skills in:

  • Influencing: 40%

  • Providing a vision: 20%

  • Advising: 20%

  • Coercion: 10%

For example if sales revenues are lagging, you would want to develop goals for leadership to train and motivate the sales team to increase sales and customer service teams skills.

This might include:

  • Devote 40% of efforts to influence the team’s growth in sales

  • Devote 20% of efforts to building a vision of what sales growth would mean for them and the organization

  • Devote 20% of efforts to advise and mentor reps on how to sell better

  • Devote 20% of efforts to coerce them on what happens if they don’t attain goals.

Humans are mentally and socially engineered a certain way. A smart leader knows how to harness that engineering to achieve organizational results.

Caution: Coercion should be used minimally and carefully or you create resentment.

Yes, there are times you have to fall back on coercion. “Because I’m the boss/parent and I said so!” But overuse of that crutch will cause you to be resented.

Leadership development objectives: does leadership style matter?

The best leadership development plans include goals about what kind of leader you want to develop – not what leadership style you want them to follow

There are many leadership styles. You will note, the weakness of each leadership style is the lack of proficiency in one or all of the 4 components of leadership.

For example:

  • Autocratic leadership style like Martha Stewart may fail to include vision and advising

  • Servant Leaders who doesn’t use coercion well can lead to self burnout

  • Democratic leadership style, which focuses on advising, is unable to react quickly

  • Transformational leadership focuses on vision, typically requires an advisor to balance their style

  • Transactional leaders focused on coercion can create harsh working environments

  • Laissez-Faire leadership can fail due to non-use of coercion and advising

  • Charismatic leadership is strong on influence and vision, but can lead to burn out

As you can see, leadership styles are not the best way to establish what leadership development goals to focus on.

Leadership roles are a better way because they focus on audiences and because they carefully deploy the 4 factors of leadership development.

The key is to take the time to narrow down what kind of leader you need to develop. They can then apply the 4 components of leadership to their respective roles.

Areas of development for leaders

There are dozens of areas of development for leaders, some are critical, such as communications and management.

Some examples of leadership skills to develop:

  • Communication skills to better influence audience         
  • Leading your audience with a vision
  • Advising and mentoring
  • Initiative            
  • Teamwork         
  • Job knowledge
  • Judgement        
  • Unified marketing message     
  • Planning and organization        
  • Management: Consultative selling of ideas and concepts to your audience
  • Setting goals    
  • Dependability 
  • Cooperation    
  • Crisis and emergency leadership
  • Increase quality of audience output     
  • Line workers performance improvement          
  • Professional development       
  • Development planning for managers

Ultimately, a leadership development plan is an employee development plan

Now that you have a broad picture of how to use the 4 components of leadership development, you can begin to focus on deciding what shape your leadership development plans should take.

Its important to treat leadership development like any employee development plan. This means you only develop a few proficiencies each quarter so you truly ingrain leadership habits. 

Over the course of a few quarters, you will have a well-rounded leader with true leadership skills.

To help you get started, I offer a free Leadership Development Plan Template

individual development plan examples for leadership

This leadership development plan example shows how to develop leadership job skill proficiencies for each leader.

You break out the job description into job skill proficiencies and leadership skill proficiencies. Then leaders and their manager choose which ones to develop each quarter.

The ultimate employee development program

If you are ready to implement a complete, thorough employee development plan, my Employee Development Plan Template Kit is a failproof way to performance improvement.

The individual development plan template for leaders is intended as a starting point. But it is not a comprehensive plan.

For a complete Employee Development Program, get the complete Employee Development Plan Template Kit. It’s designed to be win-win for both the employer and employee.

There is no huge learning curve or rollout process for employer. The excel templates are straightforward and simple to complete for employee.

  • Employer guide helps employer through the quick setup of plan – typically in less than an hour

  • It includes specific instructions, examples and screen shots to quickly set up, build and implement an individual employee development plan

  • It provides step-by-step instructions for managers to administer and run quarterly review and employee coaching plan in 15 to 20 minutes
  • Can be integrated with existing HR platforms by being scheduled as a quarterly document

2 Bonuses included

1. A cost effective rewards program template to motivate employees and

2. A more comprehensive leadership development plan template to develop key employees

It’s truly the ultimate employee development program. Effective for up to about 25 developable employees and leaders.

Here’s where to learn more and get started on boosting your employees job performance from day one:

Note: This leadership development plan guide is written by a real human, synthesizing many years of experience and research to provide you with a relevant solution.

It was not written by an A.I. bot that ‘covers all the bases’ by rehashing other articles, yet doesn’t provide you with true human-helpful conclusions.

About the author:

Larry LaFata is the founder of He is a Career Development Coach and a Career Mindset Coach.

Larry LaFata, founder

He is dedicated to help you develop your career potential to the fullest, regardless of your background, education or experience.

His innovative courses include Leadership Development Plan using composite role models and Employee Development Workshops for small businesses a two hour online workshop to set up and implement employee development plans.

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Larry Lafata, Career Discovery Coach

Larry LaFata is founder of and the world’s only Career Discovery Coach. He is dedicated to help you discover your Career Destiny, regardless of your background, education or experience. His innovative courses include Define Your Career Destiny one week home study course and Career Destiny Workshop for Besties.

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