Leadership Qualities: Strategic Planning.

Good strategic planning recognizes change and plans for it, keeping you ahead of your competition.

Sadly, one of the persistent features of modern society is crime – and increasing acts of terror.  So, imagine a community of worshipers who prepared for such an attack.  Not only did they attend local workshops organized by the local security forces, they also identified security personnel in their congregation who were licensed to carry firearms and asked them to be adequately prepared during worship.  For this reason, when a lone shooter attacked the Chabad of Poway synagogue in California on Saturday, April 27, he was chased away by the prompt action of an off-duty Border Patrol agent who was at worship.  So, instead of an entire congregation being massacred, there were few injuries and a single death. In the words of Rabbi Goldstein, the lone lady who was killed, Laurie Gilbert-Kaye, gave her life for everyone (Holcombe, Andone & Silverman, 2019; https://edition.cnn.com/2019/04/28/us/san-diego-synagogue-sunday/index.html).    

Strategic planning is simply “A systematic process of envisioning a desired future, and translating this vision into broadly defined goals or objectives and a sequence of steps to achieve them” (http://www.businessdictionary.com/definition/strategic-planning.html).  Strategic planning recognizes that just because it has never been done, does not mean that it cannot be achieved if adequately planned. 

In this century, the Japanese are teaching us of such strategic foresight with the first abdication of the throne in 200 years by 85-year-old Emperor Akihito (https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2019/04/japan-emperor-abdication-190429012534525.html).  Instead of waiting until his health fails as he continues to age, Emperor Akihito sought the approval of his people to abdicate the throne while still in relatively good health.  The people endorsed his wish, and so the Government enacted a one-time law to permit this process.  His son, 59-year-old Naruhito, who is to succeed him, is a “musician and avid hiker, who spent two years at Oxford and wrote a paper on the 18th century Thames River transport systems after studying history at Gakushuin University” (AP News Agency).

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

Based on studies of over 300,000 business leaders, Zenger and Folkman, identified strategic planning as one of the top 10 (Economy, 2018).  Essentially, great leaders have a long-term vision of the future.  If necessary, they can be tactical, but they maintain the strategic outlook required to guide their families, businesses, or countries to the best future possible (https://www.inc.com/peter-economy/this-study-of-300000-businesspeople-revealed-top-10-leader-traits-for-success.html).  

Drago and Clements (1999) conducted surveys among CEOs of 91 firms exploring the relationship between strategic planning and leadership characteristics. From a series of tests including varimax rotation and regression analysis, they concluded that leadership characteristics are strong predictors of planning intensity and planning tools (https://doi.org/10.1108/01409179910781599).

“Strategy is not the consequence of planning, but the opposite: it’s the starting point” (Henry Mintzberg).

Another area in which we can see the benefit of strategic leadership is in the energy sector as countries and companies grapple with high fuel costs and extreme weather conditions.  Many countries and companies are deciding to strategically invest in renewable energy  and decrease their dependence on fossil fuels (Mitchell, 2018; http://crosscurrentpublisher.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/07/CC-42-12-17.pdf).

In 2019, some notable developments include the current Wigton Windfarms IPO in Jamaica with the Government’s aim of “socializing wealth” (https://jis.gov.jm/shares-in-wigton-windfarm-available-april-17/).  In rural America, EEtility is providing financing solutions so that the poor can reduce their electricity bill.  So, a family could pay $100 instead of $180 dollars with EEtility’s partnership, allowing them more disposable income (https://www.inc.com/magazine/201905/kevin-j-ryan/eetility-energy-efficient-utilities-upgrade.html). Several years ago, Jamaica also implemented an electricity regularization program among the poor which saw safer electricity being delivered through Ready Boards and light bulb swapping (Sweeney & Mitchell, 2016; http://www.indusedu.org/pdfs/IJRESS/IJRESS_941_16959.pdf). 

Today, great strides are being made with renewable energy investments. In New Mexico, the Government aims to upgrade or add “new solar panels, companion battery storage, electrical transformers, doors, windows, and heating and cooling systems” to about 30 state agency buildings through money raised in a green bond issue.  If successful, these improvements will reduce electricity costs by 50% (http://www.msn.com/en-xl/latinamerica/latinamerica-top-stories/new-mexico-to-market-green-bonds-for-energy-conservation/ar-BBWiN69?ocid=spartandhp).

Recognize that strategic planning for yourself can result in public rewards and a whole new life if you plan correctly.  See Gordian Raacke’s story in the video below and how he became an energy advocate.  

Want to develop or improve your strategic planning capabilities? Start by understanding the 3 core elements of scope, vision and change (Hughes & Colarelli Beatty in Tracy, 2019).  To elaborate:

  1. leadership framework is broad in scope. Understand the whole organization; the interdependence and interconnectedness of the business
  2. future-focused application. Fluidly shift the leadership balance between styles, for example, the long-term focus of transformational leadership and the short-term focus of transactional leadership; maintain long-term vision while understanding the impact of short-term decisions.
  3. change oriented. Exhibit a strong transformational element; must impact the organization’s vision and values, its structure and systems, to effect changes in the operational culture (Tracy, 2019; https://www.briantracy.com/blog/leadership-success/the-seven-leadership-qualities-of-great-leaders-strategic-planning/).  

New experiences can also open your eyes to the changing global landscape, particularly the impact of technology and social media.  Read more in Be Prepared and other works at  http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/KeishaAMitchellPhD  and https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zfPWaPCJ0vE  .

Photos courtesy of Unsplash.

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