Leadership Articles: TALKING LEADERSHIP


A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
May 2013   |   By Dan Gaynor

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Simple Powerful Planning

In my role as teacher and executive coach I am always encouraging the men and women I work with to become transformational leaders. Indeed all real leadership is about transformation, it's about taking new ground. While managers do the best they can with what they have, leaders change the game, they are always improving things. This introduces the need for strategic planning and yet I meet so many people who do little or none of it. With this in mind I offer my nine step approach to better planning:

1. Assess where you are today You can't know which steps to take unless you know where you are starting from, so do a situation assessment. The most common and effective approach is to list your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats - planners call this a SWOT analysis. Want to keep it really simple? Just list your opportunities and weaknesses.

2. Determine which items offer the most gain Now look at your situation assessment and rank the items you listed. I like to rank those that are most doable and that offer the biggest upside the highest.

3. Set one to three clear objectives Next take the top two or three and write a clear objective statement for each, "Improve Customer response time by 50%" would be a clear objective statement. You may be tempted to take more on but try to limit yourself to no more than two or three.

4. Determine which strategies are best to accomplish these objectives: Now determine which strategies will help you reach each objective. You may have one or several strategies for each objective. In our example we might decide to upgrade our telephone system and introduce a better system of tracking response time as two good strategies.

5. Write a tactical plan Now we move to the tactical level - this is when you identify the action steps (the who does what) and make assignments. Each strategy must have these tactical steps. Make sure you include clear milestones and deadlines.

6. Execute with vigor OK time to get to work. Make sure everyone executes the action steps with energy and discipline. A sense of urgency and strong accountability are the keys to good execution.

7. Adjust as necessary It has been said that no plan survives its first encounter with the enemy and I think this is true, so be prepared to adjust as you move forward based on what you are learning. Adaptation is a key to success.

8. Measure results When you've carried out your plan, measure the results. Did you achieve or miss your objectives? What did you learn? These questions are the keys to getting smarter and making better future choices.

9. Keep it simple Finally, keep it simple. Most of the plans that I see fail do so because people overcomplicate them and take too much on at once. Some of the best strategic plans I've seen fit onto one or two pages. Better to write a good plan, feel good about accomplishing it and then move on to what's next. This way planning supports continuous improvement.

The most common objection I hear is that, "I'm too busy to plan." This suggests to me that the individual is too busy to become anything more than a manager, someone who minds the store. Transformational leaders take purposeful steps to improving their teams and pursuing their vision, simple powerful planning is the key.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Are you currently leading your team in a planned effort to improve the team and business?
  2. Which two or three objectives hold the greatest potential for your group?
  3. How well do you instill the sense of urgency that drives great teams?

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A Feature Article from Gaynor Consulting Inc.
May 2013   |   By Dan Gaynor


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