Question of the Month: What is Legitimate Leadership’s view of the value of detailed planning?
Answer: Having studied information technology (IT), and been an IT consultant, I was previously a firm believer in the power of detailed planning. I believed that the better you can predict the future, the better would be your end result.
However, as I came to learn repeatedly, predicting the future has its challenges! In fact I learned that a single-minded focus on achieving the predefined end result by following the predefined detailed plan often created more problems than it solved. And the more the detail, the more plentiful the assumptions. And the more plentiful the assumptions, the greater the chance of the future not turning out as it was supposed to!
Today I believe that one should keep the result in mind, but understand that it is actually just the outcome reached because of the incremental contributions made.
The plan should offer a guide, but it should also evolve and deepen as new information becomes available. The contributions, or value-adding activities that make up the whole deserve at least as much attention as the end point.
This is the foundation of the Legitimate Leadership Model. When we see leadership as an activity centred on achieving results through people (the conventional view), we reduce people to machines. If we were able to program people, and separate their labour from their self, this might be a productive definition.
However, as we can’t ask people to come to work while leaving their selves at home, we have a problem. We need to do more than just tell people what to do.
Effective leadership is about enabling people: engaging their hearts and minds as well as their bodies. The Legitimate Leadership Model holds that if willingness is what we want (and it certainly should be!) then the people need to be the end. The job, or task, or outcome, or result, is simply the subject matter we can use to achieve great people.
Wonderfully, experience has shown us that treating people as the end, as it happens, also yields the best results.