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Leadership and Planning

By: Hsin-Yi Cohen BSc, MA, MSt - Updated: 5 Dec 2012 | comments*Discuss
Planning Leadership Task Team Planning

Being an effective leader means always having a plan of action – a vision of the future to be worked towards and set of strategies for achieving both the short-term and the long-term goals. Without good planning, most leaders will fail in their roles and be unable to provide good leadership to their teams and organisations.

Having A Vision…

One of the key attributes of an effective leader is the ability to have a clear vision of future goals and objectives, to know exactly where the team or organisation is headed and in what time frame. Without vision, it is almost impossible to form a strategic plan. Here are four things to consider when forming a strategic plan:

  • Where am I now? (internal audit)
  • Where can I grow? (research)
  • Where is the organisation going? (vision for the organisation)
  • Where do I want to grow? (personal vision)

Tactical Planning

In addition to having a strategic plan – which focuses on a vision of the future - it is also important to have tactical plans, which focus on the “now”. Strategic plans look forwards; they provide guidelines for growth and how to overcome gaps in the future. Tactical plans are orientated towards the present and focused on present gaps in performance and how to overcome them. They aim to provide stability in the ‘now’ so that change can take place and promote growth in the future.

Good Leadership Planning

The first step in planning should be a good brainstorming session with all the people involved in a project. Not only does this provides the best combination of useful input and ideas, it also gives all team members a sense of ownership in the project and a feeling of being part of the solution. Things to consider in the brainstorming session include:

  • What are all the ingredients necessary for a successful completion of the project?


  • What are all the possible obstacles which could hinder or cause the project to fail?

As leader of the team, it is your responsibility to keep an open mind and listen carefully to contributions and judgements from all members of the team. Then work together with the team to consider all the possible obstacles and challenges to success, as well as what actions could be taken to prevent any hindrances.

Spend time making a detailed plan which includes: who, what, when, where, how, and why. Think carefully about questions such as:

  • Who will do what?
  • Who does it involve?
  • When does it start? When does it end?
  • Where will it take place?
  • How will it take place?
  • Why must we do it?
  • What will happen if we don’t?

It is key to employ your organisational abilities to the full here – by systematically defining and arranging each task in the project. Organisation involves creating a structure and maintaining the conditions for the plans to be effectively executed. It can be broken down into several steps, with some of the most important being:

Determine The Tasks Required

This can be done through ‘backward planning’ when each goal in the plan is considered individually and everyone decides what must be done to reach it. In other words, you start from the project ending point and work your way back to the present, to determine what must be done to reach the end point. By doing things this way, it helps you look at the big picture first and setting a logical sequence for things to happen.

Structure The Task List

Once you gave all the details, such as the needs, supplies, support, equipment, coordination, etc, and have organised them into categories, you can set up a structure for accomplishing the tasks. The simplest way is to create a “To Do” list for each category and these checklists will help to ensure that things are progressing as planned.

Prioritise And Assign The Tasks

Remember, even with a large team, you cannot do everything simultaneously – certain tasks are always more important than others and certain tasks have to be completed before others can start. So it is vital to set priorities and to assign specific jobs to specific members of the team. It is also useful to develop a system for cross-checking with each other, to ensure that each task is completed on time and that people are not wasting time waiting for others.

Don’t forget to think about resources in your planning – not having the required resources and not allocating them properly can be one of the biggest hindrances to a project moving forward successfully.

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