Planning for Leaders
Episode #9 of the course Increasing your leadership potential by Bob McGannon
Good leaders think about the present and possibilities for the future. Planning and aligning that planning with corporate strategy is a fundamental element of successful leadership. Here are a few tips for ensuring your planning is as effective as possible.
Align Goals with Strategies
It is easy to get caught up in the day-to-day delivery of our responsibilities and forget to “see the forest through the trees.” People with leadership potential have a habit of stepping back and looking for improvements to the way work is being delivered and/or new products or services that can be provided to customers.
The first thing to determine is what can be done in the short term (goals) and what (like Stephen Covey says) is “the end you need to keep in mind.” That end is your strategy, which should come from the senior management in your organization.
The steps to deliver against goals usually comes from lower management and their teams. Deriving the steps to achieve goals is how your leadership can stand out! However, that’s not where it ends. In addition to the steps to achieve your department’s goals, be sure to propose plans for training staff, ensuring that your goal achievement works in harmony with other areas of your business and testing your output to make sure it meets your specified goals.
Once you draft your plans to meet department goals, ensure that the outcome will support your organization’s strategy. Sometimes what you produce can enhance or slightly alter that strategy. Be sure to involve your management team early if you see this possibility, as timing is important for discussions of this nature, which I outline in my next tip.
Ensure That Your Timing Is Appropriate
Just jumping in and producing plans to meet new goals or proposing strategy changes isn’t always a sign of sound leadership skills. Take a look at the status of your current job role and output first. If you already have changes or improvements to address, ensure that you have your own plans in place, approved and in progress, before looking to demonstrate your planning capabilities elsewhere.
Second, be sure you can recommend positive ways in which you can enhance the planning process. If you possess good organizational skills or a particular technical background, helping produce plans can be appropriate. If not, you still might be able to contribute by volunteering to review the plans produced by your team to make sure they are clear and understandable.
Third, look for ways to support the plans by proposing ways you can help ensure that your business meets its day-to-day targets, while executing plans to achieve department goals. As I mentioned in my first email, demonstrating a balance between change initiatives and “business as usual” activities in your department is a sign of a good leader.
Ensure That Plans Are Complete
Good planning that helps achieve department goals involves more than simply listing a series of tasks. Good plans also lay out:
• the best sequence for performing those tasks and if tasks can be performed in parallel to save time
• estimates for the time and money it will take to complete each task
• the people who need to be involved to properly complete each task and the degree of involvement required
• notes for when external groups, such as other departments or vendors, are required to complete task(s) and tasks to engage with those external parties in advance
You are almost done—one more email left! Tomorrow, I will discuss times you may need to do things differently to achieve the desired results.
Until then, check your plans for completeness and clarity!
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