All businesses—whether family, partnership or employee-owned—face the challenge of developing exemplary next-generation leaders who will sustain the vitality of their organization. Owners and managers get caught up in the day-to-day efforts of maintaining the business, and time passes by without proper attention given to grooming and educating the leaders of tomorrow.
There’s a powerful and enabling process you can use to grow and strengthen your business today, prepare your next-generation leaders and unleash the energy of an empowered culture. That process is strategic planning.
Strategic planning is most effective when shareholders, executives and key individuals from diverse areas of the business work collaboratively on the future. Including future leaders when creating strategic plans educates them on best practices and helps communicate your goals. Further, it encourages people to work in teams, innovate to win in an ever-changing business world and achieve the vision and aspirations of the shareholders.
A solid strategic plan starts with an understanding of the organization’s mission statement and vision. It should clearly state company values and principles expected by the owners and set aspirational goals for the future. The stages of creating a successful strategic plan are outlined below.
Assess the Current Condition of Your Organization
The first stage of creating a successful strategic plan is to examine the trends and challenges your company faces. This requires engaging your team to collect and analyze information and report on the state of the business, both inside and out. How’s the health of your company culture? Is your company winning in all of its product and service areas? Are you facing emerging competitors? Do changing demographics, legislation or customer needs present a risk to your company’s future? Big-picture questions like these provide an expansive review of what’s happening around your company.
By encouraging your future leaders to study your customers, supply chain, product and service development and other key areas, you broaden their knowledge of the world around them. They’ll intuitively understand the risks, opportunities and urgency of remaining competitive. And they’ll help you communicate this knowledge throughout the organization.
Also part of the assessment stage is to examine your organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT).
Strengths and weaknesses are internal conditions, while opportunities and threats are external to the company. By gaining awareness of these attributes and conditions, your team can prioritize suggestions to achieve strategic goals. Further, including future leaders when conducting a SWOT analysis teaches them to be attentive to your company’s long-term goals and shifts their daily decision making to include your future objectives.
Identify Initiatives for Success
During this stage of strategic planning, the team should identify what’s critical to the success of the business. What are the most important initiatives that will help enhance the company’s growth and health and accomplish ownership goals? The group studies and then ranks potential key initiatives for review and approval by the owners. This inclusiveness in planning leads to a powerful sense of ownership—the plan is “our plan” versus “their plan.” Once the initiatives are approved, the strategic planning team will then develop specific action plans to achieve your desired results.
Define Action Plans to Implement
Establishing action plans for implementation and execution is the next step in the planning process. Champions (future leaders) are assigned to lead the development of specific, measurable, attainable, results-oriented and time-sensitive (SMART) goals. These metrics define the resources and financial needs necessary for achievement and set up measurements for success and progress. And when approved by ownership, the team members become both authorized and responsible for the completion of their plans. They become accountable.
And then comes your opportunity to lead and teach by example.
As the leader of the business, you must be resolved in your support and continually communicate the strategic plan. You should inspect what’s expected, recognize and praise team progress and remove obstacles within the path of your team. Moreover, you should demonstrate trust in your team by supporting and encouraging their decision making. Your role is to coach and mentor your employees, just as you expect them to do with others.
Through this annual process, your next generation leaders learn how to plan and lead the business. They recognize the value of including others in problem solving. They understand the need to focus on key action plans that will create lasting results. And they see the esprit de corps created by an empowered organization. Your future leaders come to appreciate the momentum created by granting responsibility and authority to act on their plans—and accountability drives results.
Most importantly, they learn that trust empowers an organization to succeed.
(Inclusiveness + Knowledge + Accountability) x Trust = Empowerment
Include your next generation of leaders in your long-term planning. You’ll instill passion, motivation, pride and an enabled workforce. You’ll help your team rise to its full potential. And you’ll increase the performance of your company while grooming your next generation of leaders. For more information, contact David or your trusted BKD advisor.