It was President Eisenhower who once said, “Plans are useless, but planning is essential.” As a leader, you’ve seen how your plans have failed to account for certain variables that rendered them ineffective. That doesn’t mean you quit planning though. We have all probably heard the saying, "If you fail to plan, you can plan to fail". Every leader must learn how to plan, and also be ready to adjust that plan as you execute it.
Here are four essential elements to help you strategically plan well:
Don’t over promise
When you over promise and under deliver, it undermines your future plans. It’s good to have big dreams and a larger plan in place. Break down your plans into chunks that move your organization forward, but doesn’t extend it too far in one leap. People need to be stretched, but if you stretch them too far, they will not follow. When they don’t follow, your plans fail to deliver on what you promised.
Get some wins
Make plans that give your team some quick wins. These wins will give your team momentum in the direction you’re headed in. It requires a tremendous amount of energy to execute plans. The more you can get momentum on your side, the more they will buy into your plans in the future. Progress is a must, and the only way to get it is to get people to buy into the plan. The more wins you get early on, the more people in the organization will get on board with the plan. Their dead weight will become a force of inertia for the organization.
Studies show that more than half of the population are visual learners. That means they process and understand concepts visually. Use charts, graphs, maps or visual anchors for the plan. If they’re going to execute your plan, they must visualize it first. They need to see the path from where they are to where you’re leading them. Milestones they can see will help them to know they’re making progress and that the plans you’ve made are achievable.
Finally, you’ve heard of “What’s In It For Me,” but the real question is, “What’s In It For Them?” You must be able to articulate what achieving these plans will do for them as individuals, not for the organization. Rewards are great positive reinforcement no matter how small they are. When people feel like they benefit from the plan, they are more likely to put their effort into executing it.
If your leadership team needs help creating strategic plans that move their teams and the organization forward, we have a class designed just for that. We take these concepts and break them down so your leaders leave the class with plans in hand, and more importantly knowing how to plan going forward.
To learn more about this class and the 10 core leadership skills developed click here.