In the 5 Steps to Real Leadership, planning plays in an important role for the development of leaders and their followers. Plans guide us through detailed steps and processes to assure we are taking the necessary actions to achieve our goals.
And some of us are more proficient at planning than others. I love making plans, defining steps and actions, and then checking things off the list.
But we have all heard the infamous quote from Robert Burns, Of Mice and Men…
The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry
Translated, no matter how well or carefully you plan, something can still go wrong. So you can interpret this then to mean one of two things:
1. If things will go wrong anyway, why plan?
2. If things can wrong with a plan, imagine how badly it can go without a plan.
I ascribe to the latter. Here are the top 5 reason why making plans is valuable for leaders.
- Enable you to feel confident and prepared
- Clarifies roles and expectations
- Provide guidance through unknown territory
Now that being said, the quote holds merit. Plans don’t ensure that something won’t go wrong. Which means leaders need two things:
1. The capacity to troubleshoot and respond effectively and appropriately when something goes wrong quickly
2. The willingness to adapt and adjust to plans changing
A good real life example is when I plan meetings and trainings. I create agendas that outline the events down to the minute. So when I go into a meeting or training I know exactly what I want to have happen; however, I also accept that what I want may not actually happen. So the plan is not set in stone, but rather serves as a guide to follow as long as it serves the goals and needs of those involved. I may spend hours putting together a training plan, but if it is clear my training participants have different needs then it is essential for me to adapt and adjust my plans.
In the real world, things don’t always go the way we want so real leaders have to be able to react effectively, appropriately, and strategically when those plans go awry.
To develop your ability and willingness to adapt and adjust to change, you will need to:
- Have an open-mind
- Look for the lesson or opportunity
- Gather information before you react
- Seek input from all stakeholders
- Tolerate uncertainty
- Apply what you have learned to the next steps
Whether you are making plans for your own leadership goals, a team project, or a new business be prepared for those plans to go awry and act accordingly. GO PLAN!