Like most businesses midway through fourth quarter, we’re embarking on strategic planning for 2020. This year, I have the unique privilege of helping two friends work through plans for their firms as well, so I’ve been thinking about how to make the process more effective. I find that before any company can plan strategically as a group, its leaders first must think strategically on their own. Of course, your annual business plan will include the basics of where you’ve been, who you’re targeting and where you want to go in the future, but if you want to thrive collectively and individually next year, take these three steps before you enter that initial strategy session:
Identify your unique abilities. Everyone has things they are uniquely gifted to do – things they’re good at, they enjoy and that come easier to them than most. In an ideal world, 100 percent of your time would be spent operating in those unique abilities because you’d be happier and your company would be more effective. But to operate in them as often as possible, you must first know what they are. Spend some time alone thinking about your skills, what you’re passionate about and what energizes you. If you need clarity, ask those who know you best. Once you’ve identified your top three abilities, the challenge will be managing your time to those strengths. Every week should include time for preparation, productivity and rejuvenation with your productive days focused almost entirely on your unique abilities. For years, I’ve implemented The Strategic Coach Entrepreneurial Time System® so I can maximize my impact and deliver the greatest value to the firm.
Prioritize what you need to delegate. You’ll never manage time to your strengths if you’re doing a lot outside of your unique abilities. For a few days, keep a detailed activity log of every task you do. Then, segment the tasks into four areas: 1) I’m good at and enjoy 2) I’m good at but don’t enjoy 3) I’m not good at but enjoy 4) I’m not good at and don’t enjoy. Delegate as much as possible from the last three quadrants. As a business leader, you do not need to do everything – or even know how to do everything. I love how this article put it: “It is essential to liberate [our] minds from some of the minutiae of knowing the details to free up mental processing space for the bigger picture as well as to hire people who have expertise beyond [our] own and let them shine.”
Reflect on successes and failures. Over the past year, what did you do well? Where could you improve? This doesn’t simply apply to business operations and client acquisition (although that’s important for your leadership team to discuss, too). It also applies to your management of people, your follow-through on commitments, your communication of company vision. Articulating what you learned and setting goals to improve are necessary parts of company growth.
Yes, all three of these steps focus on you individually. That’s not an accident or a blog mistitle. Effective business planning and management starts with effective leadership, and understanding your most important and impactful roles will enable your company to be more strategic in 2020 and beyond.
Blog by Kyle Brownlee, CEO.