The Habakkuk Guidelines: 8 Steps for Creating Best-in-Class Leadership Development Programs

Then the Lord answered me and said: ‘Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time; But at the end it will speak, and it will not lie, though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, it will not tarry.’
— Habakkuk 2: 2-3 (NKJV)

For those of us who are Christians, best-in-class always begins and ends with God. What vision has God given you for leadership development for your company? How will you galvanize your team around the vision?

The Steps

The book of Habakkuk provides excellent guidelines, practical principles, and pragmatic suggestions that may be applied to the planning and implementation of successful leadership development initiatives for your company.  Let’s begin with Habakkuk 2:2-3, where God provides detailed instructions for imparting vision.  

He says that your vision is:

  1. To be written down or recorded (v.2):  

    Your leadership development goals and initiatives should be clearly outlined in the form of a formal comprehensive strategic business plan that includes:  your mission and vision; situation analysis; program objectives and strategies; management and operations structure; marketing plan; financial plan; and implementation and evaluation plan. 

  2. To be made plain so that others can understand it (v.2):

    The situation analysis section of the business plan for your leadership development initiatives is the area where you clearly explain the importance of talent development with regards to your company, society, and the Kingdom.  Help your team understand the need and sense of urgency around human capital development.  Consider including a SWOT analysis that highlights your company’s internal strengths and weaknesses, relative to succession planning, along with implications of the broader external market opportunities and threats facing your company. 

  3. To be shared with other individuals (v.2):

    Leadership development initiatives touch all levels of your company.  So, it’s imperative that they’re not created in a silo that only includes Human Resource (HR) professionals.  While HR may play a role in drafting the plan, it’s critical that key stakeholders across all functional areas understand the importance of leadership development to their organizations and to the longevity of the company.  Take the time to share your ideas around human capital strategy with your colleagues and get their input and feedback.  This helps to drive a sense of ownership and accountability around talent development across all departments.

  4. For motivating others toward a common goal (v.2):

    Engage your team in appreciating how leadership development facilitates the mission and vision of the company.  Connect the dots for them.  Help them understand how these programs will help the company achieve strategic business imperatives in areas such as succession planning, diversity and inclusion, women’s leadership, and student, faculty, and staff engagement and retention. 

  5. To be acted on or implemented (v.2):

    Execution is critical.  Be sure to clearly define roles and responsibilities in the business plan for your leadership development platform.  Set your goals.  Identify the required learning platforms (e.g., cohort programs, executive education classes, on-demand tools, learning management systems, etc.). And, allocate the necessary resources – both budgetary and human (e.g., subject matter experts, curriculum designers, instructors, coaches, consultants, etc.).

  6. For a specific time in the future (v.3):

    Best-in-class leadership development programs prioritize internal target audiences based on short and long-term needs of the company.  For example, today your most pressing audience for leadership development support may be your front-line staff or high potentials in your development office.  Later, you may find that your senior executives or middle managers require more support.  Make sure that the business plan for your leadership development program is flexible in addressing the dynamic changes and needs of your company. 

  7. Not to be discarded (v.3):

    When other corporate priorities begin to beg for attention, keep your leadership development plans front and center.  Maintain your commitment to developing your next generation of leaders.  Your bench strength.  Remember, they are integral to the longevity of your company.

  8. Fail-proof (v.3):

    What does success look like for your company when it comes to leadership development?  Take the time to contemplate, discuss, and pray about this with your team.  Then identify qualitative and quantitative variables to measure and track your progress.  Assessment and evaluation should be integral parts of your business plan for talent development.  Continuous improvement is essential for best-in-class leadership programs.  Ultimately, for us as Christians our focus must be on achieving not just success, but more importantly significance, in that we’re leaving a positive lasting legacy for Kingdom purposes. 


If you want to learn more about how to build the right team or are interested in ongoing business and leadership skill-development, consider joining a Convene Peer Advisory Group.  

You can also learn more about work-life balance in this Convene White Paper, “Developing People with a Kingdom Purpose”.  


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About the Author

Dr. K. Shelette Stewart

Dr. K. Shelette Stewart serves in a leadership role with Harvard University overseeing strategic partnerships with global corporations for Harvard Business Company. She is an international keynote speaker and the author of the award-winning book, Revelations in Business: Connecting Your Business Plan with God’s Purpose and Plan for Your Life, which has been formally endorsed by academic and business leaders including Dan Cathy, chairman and chief executive officer of Chick-fil-A. For more insights and information, please visit: www.shelettestewart.com