Planning As A Leadership Skill

Planning is a leadership skill you want to develop

Among the good leadership skills one would expect from a leader, planning is one of the most important as it gives direction and a way to achieve the goals you develop. Yet, leadership in business today demands a fluid approach to the future for as Alvin Toffler once said, “You can use all the quantitative data you can get, but you still have to distrust it and use your own intelligence and judgment.”

Gone are the times when planning meant applying formulas you learned in school or in your MBA program. Not anymore. Today, leadership skills require you to develop your ability to build for a future that cannot be predicted, estimated, or forecast. In other words, “You’ve got to think about big things while you’re doing small things so that all the small things go in the right direction”. [Alvin Toffler].

What Happens If…

This is what planning prepares the organization for- ‘what happens if…’. Sometimes, this “if” comes from within and sometimes from outside. Sometimes, it is initiated by self, and sometimes it just falls into your lap and you have to deal with it fast and decisively. This is what leadership demands in today’s business world.

Planning is based on making certain assumptions about the future.

This will be accurate only when the future moves according to certain written and unwritten rules. What if there are no rules?

Today business is based on this assumption and therefore, good leadership skills in this context mean the ability to decide as you go along on whether you will stick to your original plan, improvise or completely change it.  It is like you are having a destination planned and clear; however, the route to reach it would be negotiated as you go along, for the roads have not been mapped yet.

Planning by itself is about writing a document and shoving it into a drawer.

Planning as a Leadership skill is different than merely planning.  It’s when leaders routinely and regularly review the plans they developed, assess where they are towards the goals and determine what if anything has changed that requires a shift to the plan.  This does not mean however that because you are not meeting the goals you change them.  It means an honest review of the lay of the land and then to decide if the goals need adjusting based on this new information.

The Final-Decision Making Process

A few decades ago, good planning meant steady growth and few hard-core decision-making processes along the line.  Today, this is almost completely reversed; hard-core final decision-making is the order of the day in the present scenario. Leadership in business means being decisive on the go, trusting your gut as much as the figures and trends calculated by sophisticated computers, and taking risks.

Overall planning in today’s context, is still a formidable part of what is expected in a great leader; at the same time, it requires much more if it has to be translated into success – such as intuition, an aggressive movement towards change, fast decision-making and a willingness to take chances.

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