Being a great leader means accepting that plans change

As is often the case in any scenario, plans sometimes need to change quickly and frequently. It’s great to have a clear objective and plan in your mind at all times, but risks can quickly present themselves which require you to change your course. This is in no way the sign of a bad leader – some of the worst have continued down a road to disaster after events have moved on around them. In fact, the way that you deal with change will demonstrate whether or not you fall into the realms of great or not.

Being flexible

For this reason, you need to quickly realise that plans are in no way set in stone. Your long term vision should stay the same, but the way in which you get there must be flexible and tracked. After all, what separates you as a leader from being a manager is your ability to seek and define long-term goals rather than short-term ones and to have the ability to be proactive to change rather than simply reactive. There may even be a need to change the vision if the change is really dramatic: compare what happened to Kodak (from world leader to bankrupt) and Fujifilm (from world number 2 to diversified chemicals and cosmetics company) when digital cameras became popular.

Look from the outside in

Sometimes it’s necessary to take a step back from your position and take a look in at your business and the role that you are playing within it. This will help you to get a clearer perspective and take proper account of what is happening in the business. A great way to do this is to look at your business plan. It’s not simply a tool you show investors but is more a guide to help you keep track of your company’s vision. You can see if this plan allows flexibility to change, and it’s likely a good idea to encourage others to revisit this plan with you to make sure it’s still relevant.

Frequency of change

As mentioned, sometimes change is inevitable and risk will present itself that requires you to change, but it’s also a good idea to seek this change. As we also said, it’s about being proactive rather than reactive. So take a proper check quarterly and see if a change is needed. There are cases when this proactive analysis for change happens more frequently, such as if you are a startup or are finding that you’re continuously losing ground in your market. Test and see what works for you. Use someone in your network or a trusted adviser to sanity check your plans: have you missed something obvious? Is there something happening to your market that you haven’t spotted?

The key message here is that a leader is both responsive to new change and proactively seeks effective change. When this change happens you need to be ready to act and to lead your team with confidence in this new direction and communicate this to them. If you believe your business is in need of change or that you, as a leader, require a broader toolset to facilitate this then get in contact today and St. Andrews Consulting can likely help you with exactly what you need.

Image credit: Planning close-up by orangeacid licensed under Creative commons 4