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Leadership Insights:

Leadership Tips: Simple, on-the-job self improvement ideas to strengthen your leadership skills

Stress: A dozen strategies to reduce on-the-job stress

Leadership Articles: Leadership and team development insights by Jeff Appelquist

Time Management: Strategies and activities to help business leaders manage their time

Leadership Styles: Overview of the frameworks, theories, and styles of leadership

Leadership Power: Six types of power for business leaders

Decision Making: Understanding sound decision making

Personalized Growth Plan: Design and begin a personalized leadership growth plan

Communication Tips: Leaders know how to communicate effectively

The Power of Praise: Meaningful praise is a powerful and important motivator

Understanding Feedback: There are five main categories of feedback 

Leadership Responsibilities: A team leader's responsibilities to his or her team

Leader/Team Tension: Leader behavior that can weaken team cohesiveness

Management Framework: A process outline for achieving results

Strategic Planning: Determine where your team has been and where it wants to be

Talent Development: Guidelines for developing the talents of your team members

Engagement Misconceptions: Twelve misconceptions about employee engagement

High-Power Leadership: When does leadership power become counterproductive

Succession Planning: Guidelines for a successful succession program

Strategic Planning


Strategic planning is a means by which leaders can influence the future.  It is a process that works toward two ends: It systematically sets a course of action and it provides a clear picture of where a team/organization has been and where it wants to be.  Strategic planning addresses essential team/organizational questions: What do we do? Who are our customers? Where are we right now? Where do we want to be in the future? How do we chart a course of action? How do we define success? Strategic planning is a learning journey. 

Strategic planning is not a onetime event, rather it is an ongoing process of looking deeply into what the team/organization is, determining its priorities, and adjusting methodology.  While long-range planning places an emphasis on shaping a vision, strategic planning focuses more energy on strategies to achieve a vision.

Nine-Step Process:

There are many ways to design and implement a strategic plan; one nine-step model is summarized below:

1. Planning Prep: Identify key players, gather background data, & set a timetable.  Be certain that you don't rush or shortchange the process.

2. Pinpointing a Mission: Reaffirm what your team does, why it does it, for whom,  and what it wants to become.

3. Mapping Reality: Isolate what is currently working and what isn’t: strengths and impediments.  This includes assessing both external and internal challenges and opportunities. 

Externally, identify factors that impact your ability to achieve goals and meet targets.  This may include consideration of the economy, changes in customer needs, client expectations, suppliers, costs, regulations, etc.

Internally, identify factors that impact your ability to achieve objectives, quotas, and goals.  This may include considerations like personnel issues, facilities, resources, operation requirements, revenue pressures, etc.

4. Setting Goals and Objectives: Develop goals. In a nutshell, goals answer the core question, “What are the desired outcomes that we want to achieve?”  Objectives break the goals into smaller specific pieces that are measurable.

5. Brainstorming Strategies: Discuss how you will achieve your goals and objectives.  In other words, what are the actions or methods that you will use to meet your goals and objectives.  Your brainstorming should address key issues, possible choices that must be made, and questions that need to be answered. 

Test your suggested strategies against set criteria:

  • Is the strategy realistically doable?

  • Is the strategy acceptable to leadership and stakeholders?

  • Does the strategy fit our mission, values, and operating norms?

  • Is the strategy affordable?

  • Can the strategy be done in a timely way?

Narrow and combine your strategies and subsequently place them in priority order.

6. Writing the Action Plan: Select the best course of action.  This is a work plan of what will get done when and by whom.  It should include the identification of resources, needs, key players, and decisions to be made.

Be sure to gather necessary input, secure buy-in for the plan, and seek final approval.

7. Removing Threats & Maximizing Opportunities: Determine the best way to implement your plan.  Consider impediments, possible threats, “selling” the action plan, who can help, obstacles, and potential opportunities.

 8. Identifying Indicators of Success: Determine what will indicate that your actions are working.  In other words, how can you tell if you are actually achieving your goals.  This includes performance measures that are based on data and can be measured numerically.

9. Monitoring & Adjusting the Plan: Work to keep the plan alive and well.  This will include regular assessments, revisions, statements of progress, tweaking of procedures, weighing of feedback, and regular updates and reports to leadership.

Best Practices

When strategic planning, consider the following considerations:

  1. Include a diverse group of players in your strategic planning process

  2. Include key decision makers

  3. Articulate the organization’s values and mission

  4. Don’t rush the process

  5. Allow and encourage open and divergent thinking

  6. Stretch your thinking; think outside of the box

  7. Take an unflinching look at your current reality

  8. Focus on taking action

  9. Be open to change as the process unfolds

  10. Focus on a logical, sequence work plan

  11. Agree on critical issues, barriers, strengths, and opportunities for improvement before pushing forward

  12. Establish a timeframe and be accountable to it

  13. Communicate the plan thoroughly

  14. Be certain the strategic plan realistically fits available resources

  15. The plan should meet but also stretch capabilities

  16. Keep the strategic plan concise (place extended documentation in an appendix)

  17. Strategic planning should work to strengthen leadership skills, nurture strategic thinking, and expand competencies

  18. Encourage feedback at every step of the process