Liz's Latest Articles
One of the questions I’m initially asked by a new strategic planning client is, “How will we know what we’re supposed to focus on with our new plan?” Well, the easy answer is, “You’ll focus on what you need to focus on,” but the more appropriate answer is, “You’ll focus on what your answers to some critical questions tell you to focus on.” Now you may be thinking, “Those sound like a couple of non-answers and they don’t sound strategic at all.”
One of the many pleasures of my work is that I have the opportunity to observe, work with, learn from, and laugh with some incredibly good leaders. I also am able to experience others, who, though well-meaning, create more work, confusion, and frustration than they realize. One of the fundamental differences in these two types of leaders is that those who I view as ‘good leaders’ intentionally reassess and develop their own leadership skills while they dedicate time and resources to developing the leadership skills in others. Why? Good leaders realize one simple truth: The more skills their teams have, and the more united they are in their actions, the stronger they will perform. Win - Win - Win.
How well do you know your team members? Besides knowing their names and generally what their jobs are, do you have a realistic understanding of their workplace challenges, the projects they’re involved with, their professional goals, and their unique skills weaknesses or areas of expertise? No? I understand. It’s tough enough having time to get your own work done much less worry about your team members’ challenges. However, the sooner you understand your team members better, the sooner you’ll relieve some of your workplace stress, you’ll strengthen your workplace relationships, and you’ll see your performance - and your entire team’s performance - improve.
Do you believe your managers can really manage? Do you believe your managers have the skills to make their own department or team decisions? Do you believe your managers can outline their own department or team projects and budgets? Do you believe your managers can resolve their own team problems and make sound decisions concerning their teams and talent? If you really believed your managers could manage, you wouldn’t be involved in so many of their management-level decisions and actions. You’d trust your managers to manage.
We’re now in the midst of the traditional strategic planning season. Given that, we’re partnering with several organizations whose planning teams are working hard to outline a clear, focused path forward for their respective organizations. For leaders who have previously experienced the strategic planning process, this process can be frustrating, stimulating, demoralizing, and energizing all at the same time. However, for leaders who struggle to comprehend the need to define and capture new strategic initiatives while not documenting and tracking oppressive current operations, the strategic planning process can be perplexing to say the least. Being able to understand and accept the difference in strategic versus complex operational actions is key to successful strategic planning.