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Face The Challenge - Sample Section, Chapter 18

Chapter Eighteen - Planning

"Planning" takes stock of the vital aspect of leadership planning to every project the Leader undertakes, providing Leaders with guidance on how to effectively supervise the project planning function and to greatly improve the chances that the actual leadership outcome will bear some semblance to their long-range strategic goals or plan.


18.1 Leadership Participation.  Sufficient resources, competent personnel, and a virtuous objective are of themselves insufficient to foretell success.  For it is the strategic plan, regardless of its estimated duration (e.g., one, three, five, or ten years) or quality, that sets in motion the series of events which must take place at each echelon for the goal to become reality, and that establishes the parameters by which unit or individual performance can be measured.  In addition, the planning process provides Leaders at all levels with their greatest opportunity to demonstrate their superior judgment and expertise by eliminating potential mistakes, reducing the severity of mistakes that cannot be anticipated or avoided, and by maximizing their supervisory unit's cohesion and operating proficiency.  However, without the senior Leader's avid scrutiny, even the best of strategies is seriously jeopardized.  As Leaders at any echelon can never ignore or grow weary of reviewing their Subordinate's plans without such perfunctory interest, lack of participation, or failure to properly acknowledge such efforts precariously sabotaging the planning function.  For those Subordinates who are the most closely attuned to their Leader's "hot-buttons" will interpret this nonchalance as a sign that planning is not so crucial to their overall well-being; and will subsequently concentrate their attention on activities that apparently warrant their Leader's more zestful approbations.  And even though the old bromide: "failing to plan is planning to fail" endures even the most exacting perusal, it rarely receives proper homage from incautious or pretentious Leaders.  Thus predictably, Leaders who fail to actively participate in the planning process are all but guaranteed to heighten their Subordinates' frustration or antipathy; as they are far more prone to making inopportune changes while the plan is in motion or giving laughable postmortem advice after their Subordinates have tripped over some easily avoidable potholes.  Or if a Leader's counsel is of so little value as to render his or her participation in the planning process relatively meaningless, the merits of him or her remaining in position is also highly questionable.  As essentially, "a leader is a man [woman] who can adapt principles to circumstances" (Patton) and thereby facilitate accomplishing the objective; and if not, he or she should justifiably receive a pink slip rather than continuing to be an obstacle to progress.

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Copyright 2006 by H. Garrett Hayward from Face the Challenge: The Leader's Success Handbook