The Role of Leadership in Planning

Executives love to talk about planning… most complain their processes don’t work very well. Harvard Business Review reports that only 11% of CEO’s believe that strategic planning is worth the effort. Most planning processes are too complex, and only document decisions already made. CEO’s have the responsibility to make their planning processes effective; I believe the key is to keep the processes simple and focused.

Here are some my observations about the role of Leaders in Planning:

• Almost all leaders can talk about where they are taking their business; talking is easy.

• Ask them to put in it in writing…almost all will struggle.

• Mark Twain said, “Mother Nature created writing to demonstrate just how disorganized the human brain really is!”

• Everybody in the organization is constantly watching what the CEO says and does. If you want to know what most CEO’s really think…watch their actions, not their words.

• Leaders need to ask… From where you sit, what does the future look like? What steps would you take to get there?

• Leaders want to lead. They want to be understood. Employees want to follow, execute and excel! Somehow the process of planning and communicating the plan falls apart in most companies.

• The CEO of SBC West once said, “Just about the time I am getting damn sick and tired of repeating our Vision, Mission and Strategies to our management team and their employees, they are just beginning to get it!” His admonition is to keep on repeating the plan! Sooner or later…people will get it!

• Sharing the plan is not enough! Leaders need to paint the big picture…and then invite the team to participate in the process.

Once the team knows the big picture, my favorite questions are:

• From where you sit, what does the future look like?

• What would be the steps you would take to get there?

• What are the obstacles you need to overcome?

• What resources are required?

• What will you measure to know if you are successful?

Planning is a continuous process…not an event. The final “plan document” should represent a set of decisions. The plans that work are the ones that get implemented and measured!

Want to Get Your Whole Team on the Same Page? Download “The Future of Planning and Performance Management – An Executive Briefing”.