The Leader & Planning: Self Preparation

This is the 3rd in a series on planning.  I purposefully chose to talk about the leader’s own self preparation in planning now.  In the first post I talked about the overall purposes of planning.  In the second I highlighted some principles on team preparation.  Both of these topics should drive some reflection for the leader on what he or she needs to do at a personal level to prepare for the team planning time.  Here are three key considerations for preparing yourself in leading a planning time.

1. Do you understand well the vision, mission and direction of the organization?  This probably sounds rather insulting.  But I often run across two problem issues in this regard.   Sometimes leaders do not fully understand what leaders above them are aiming for.  Yet, leading within a larger context requires that the leader knows the aim, goals, and expectations of the broader organization that will affect the local setting.  The other issue I see is that a leader often does not know well their own current context.  They assume by intuition what is true and what needs to happen.  But they can’t actually back those assumptions up with good metrics, surveyed data, or current trends.  They are relying too much on prior experience.  This can lead to a rather canned approach to planning that is void of any real innovation or creativity.  It can also lead to solving yesterday’s problems based on tired information.  Leaders have to be continual learners.  They must be in line with leaders above them and they must be current abut the setting of their own sphere of influence.  Knowing these things will help enflame vision, mission and direction for the leader.  Knowing these things will help insure that the leader is able to lead in line with the organization’s vision, mission and direction-and can articulate that well to a team.

2. Have you thoughtfully defined well what you hope to accomplish during the planing time?  I have seen many leaders go into planning times with the only defined goal being that of coming out with a plan.  But what kind of plan are you hoping to produce?  What will be the time line of this plan?  Who will the plan impact?  Are the right people involved in the planning process?  How will you prepare the team for what you hope to accomplish?  Do you need outside resources or expertise to aid the planning time?  Who will facilitate the planning time?  These kinds of questions must be thought through and answered ahead of time.  To do so will guide you in how you approach and execute the planning time.

3. Have you considered  the value of consulting others before you facilitate a team planning time?  Sometimes leaders rely too much on their own experience and talent.  As I mentioned earlier, leaders need to be continual learners.  Have you asked other respected leaders how they approach team planning?  Sometimes the value of just having a sounding board can really help pave the way for a solid planning time with your team.  Have you sought outside resources like books, podcasts, videos, etc. to help inform your planning time?  Have you considered asking a 3rd party to come in and facilitate your time?  This can be valuable, especially if this is an emergency plan or a season loaded with personal emotions.  To have someone else facilitate can keep the planning time more objective and profitable.  Is there a co-leader in your setting and have you worked with them to ensure a coordinated effort towards planing?

I usually suggest that a leader begin to think through the above issues at least a month before the actual team planning time.  To really prepare at a personal level takes some slow cooking.  You can’t get there in a few hours at Starbucks.  And if you are a spiritual leader or a Christian leader leading in any capacity, then begin your personal preparation with some extended time in prayer.  Being led by the One who controls it all is always a necessity.  Lead well!


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