Far too often, we boil leadership down to bite a sized quotable. Over every social media platform, you see brilliant quotes from the leading influencers of the moment or of the great leaders of the past. I have shared many quotes that speak to me and will most likely continue to do so in the hope that they will inspire others to action. After all, that is what a leader does, inspires action. But leadership is far more complicated than a great one-liner from Marcus Aurelius or John Maxwell. Leading is hard. There is endless criticism (from inside and outside of your organization), tremendous pressure to perform, and endless amounts of problems to solve.
That is why it is vital to have a plan for your organization. A solid strategic plan will help reduce the pressure from you and the leaders of your organization. So how does a strategic plan help in this way? First, when I work with a business or organization, we establish its reason for existing. The leadership team must determine the reason the organization exists and ensure it has real implications for how they will make decisions moving forward. Then we work on values. Not just generic values that we wish to work towards, but a clear set of current values that describe “who” the organization really is. This work is vital to ensure the organization knows who it is and why it does what it does. Doing these steps and a few other pieces will establish the initial foundation for the essential strategic work.
Next, we can work on differentiating the organization. Or to put more plainly, identifying the few strategic guidelines that the organization will use to make decisions. For example, maybe the team determines that it has a “flat” and agile administrative process that their customers appreciate and regularly compliment. The leadership team would then need to ensure that future decisions should protect this “flat” organizational structure at significant costs! Any processes that the organization implements should be tailored to fit its flat and agile administrative process. Doing so will keep the unique advantage. But if the team did not identify this as a strategic advantage, they may inadvertently lose an essential aspect of what makes their business great. Lastly, we work on organizational priorities and organizational roles.
Once you have worked through this process, you will be able to communicate your vision to your people. The ability to increase communication and bring your team together and get them on the same page is immeasurable. Everyone will know what the priorities are, everyone will know what the leadership team is using to base their decisions on, and it will align the entire organization.
A solid strategic plan will make implementing objective tracking systems much easier. Anything from OKRs (Objectives & Key Results) to a Balanced Scorecard are great ways to keep track of who is working on what and how you are going to achieve your key objectives.