There is no single aspect of leadership, which is more essential or meaningful, than gaining the skills, abilities and necessities of quality planning. The better one becomes capable of thoroughly analyzing situations, with the intention of learning priorities, needs, concerns, and alternatives, the better he can develop the best course of action, and a plan for getting there. Nearly every leadership training program dedicates time to the significance of both strategic and action planning, yet very few organizations, and their leadership, ever go beyond surface efforts, or over-reliance on the safe, popular, same-old rhetoric and ideas! It is the intent of this article, therefore, to review the six essential steps one should follow, to assure he makes his action plan, relevant and meaningful.
1. Fully review needs and priorities: How can you hope to develop a meaningful, relevant plan, if you don't first thoroughly review the needs and priorities, which will make the biggest, most important difference. Maintain an open mind, listen far more than you speak, avoid empty rhetoric, under-promise and over-deliver! Address current concerns in a forward-looking manner, and you make your potential action plan, far more meaningful!
2. Consider options and alternatives: Never prejudge, but rather consider options and alternatives! Think about the what-ifs, from a positive, can-do, action-oriented perspective. How will every possibility impact your organization, and what are the potential possibilities and ramifications (both positive and negative)?
3. Develop your team carefully: No individual, regardless of talents, assets, intellects, skills, etc, can do it alone! He needs to involve both co-leaders as well as stakeholders, etc. We often hear people discuss the need to delegate, but beware that unless you do so with care, and select the right people, there may be more harm than benefit! Don't merely choose yes-men, or friends, or those who you believe you can dominate. Seek individuals with absolute integrity, and the highest level of personal responsibility, who you can count on, to do what they promise to! Train and oversee the members of your team, and carefully articulate your expectations, and their responsibilities/duties, etc.
4. Delegate effectively and properly: How will you break up responsibilities, and how will you assure a minimum of redundancy? Delegate by clearly identifying what each individual should and must do, and obtain a high level of assurance your confidence in them, is understood, and how they will communicate with you, as well as the timetable, etc. If you find the right team, your possibilities are exponentially enhanced!
5. Step-by-step, with contingencies and responsibilities: A wise man once told me, Do you know how to eat the elephant? One bite at a time? When we look at any project in increments/steps, we create a can-do mindset, which becomes self-motivating! Don't over-simplify the process, consider all foreseeable contingencies, and clearly articulate responsibilities, in a well-considered manner!
6. Start!: No matter how great your hopes, plans or expectations, no action plan becomes meaningful, until, and unless you actual start and proceed!
Leaders must create, develop, implement and pursue, an action plan that is relevant, and makes a significant difference, for the better! Become the best leader you can be!