A great teacher or communicator can use a simple story to convey an important truth. My good friend and mentor, Jim Lundy, was one such communicator. He would often tell the story about the two bricklayers:
“Both bricklayers were asked what they were doing. The first bricklayer, who worked under an ineffective manager, replied gruffly, ‘I’m laying bricks.’ The second, whose supervisor was a communicative leader, looked up with a smile and said, ‘I’m helping build a cathedral!’”
The call to effective leadership exudes from that simple story: What would you like your employees to do? Would you like them to simply help you lay bricks? Or would you like them to enthusiastically help you build cathedrals?
Observation: Many managers are more comfortable doing today’s tasks than planning for the future. Therefore, they tend to jump right to performing tactics before they and their employees know where they are going or where they want to be.
When your people…
- Don’t know where they want to be, and
- Are not involved in planning how they can get there,
- Little or no meaning/purpose with their work, and
- No feeling (or recognition) of achievement
Therefore, they feel that they are just “laying bricks.”
If we’re not careful as leaders, our people will think of themselves as merely “brick layers”. To lead “cathedral builders” we must be intentional about a few, important aspects of our organizations.
It starts when you do your homework to prepare for your vision.
The next step is to actually craft your vision statement.
You are now ready to prepare…
- Strategic plans,
- Tactical plans, and
- Measureable performance goals.
These plans are important because the most well thought-out vision is no good if there are not any plans in place for how to achieve the vision.
For now, let’s focus on strategic plans and tactical plans.
Observation: Quite often, managers confuse strategy and tactics and think the two terms are interchangeable, but they’re not. They are separate business functions and practices.
Every leader can successfully achieve their desired goals by asking the two following questions.
What do we want to accomplish? And why? – Strategy
- Is the general approach or plan to achieve objectives, your beacon or your high level, desired outcomes.
- Paints a picture of the desired future and long-term objectives where the organization wants to be in three, five, or even in ten years.
- Answers the why that motives your people.
- Begins with the desired end-results, the objectives, and works backward to the current status.
- Relates to your organization’s core purpose – Why do you exist?
- Requires the involvement of your leadership team, and
- Is your responsibility to communicate, with clarity, the objectives to the total organization.
Clarity will help your people…
- Understand what they need to do, and maybe even more importantly, what they are not to do.
- Feel empowered at the most critically important time of execution.
Examples of strategic plans for my moving and storage company:
- Increase share of market through better understanding and knowledge of market opportunities in order to develop consumer sales.
- Reduce internal and external operating expenses associated with consumer sales.
The strategic plans can be divided by the various product/business lines. For example, in my moving and storage company:
- Corporate Accounts
And in addition, the plans can be divided between organizational functions:
- Marketing and Sales
- Finance and Accounting
- Administration (e.g. Human Resource)
How can we get there? – Tactics
Tactical planning asks…
- How can we get there?
- When do we want to arrive?
- Who can make it happen on schedule?
- Begins with the current status and lays down a path of action steps for implementing strategies.
- Identifies the courses of actions you will need to achieve those strategic objectives.
- Relates to actions taken day-to-day.
- Results in the organization moving forward to achieve the objectives outlined in the strategic plan.
- Is the responsibility of your front-line people who are truly the only ones qualified to plan the action steps and perform the work. They know what to do, when they need to do it, and how to do it.
When your front-line people are involved in the decision-making/planning process, they will be inspired to work harder and go the extra mile – whatever it takes to succeed.
They will enthusiastically help you build cathedrals vs. just laying bricks!
Here are some examples of tactical plans for my moving and storage company:
- “John Doe” in marketing is to create a new post-move consumer survey by September 30.
- “Jane Doe” in human resource is to update the dress code policy by October 31.
Like the strategic plans, the tactical plans can be divided by the various product/business lines and in addition/or organizational functions.
Strategic and tactical plans are fundamental to the success of any organization.
If you fail to do this for your organization, it will be like you are driving a 1,000 mile race without a roadmap.
If you don’t know where you want to be, or how you can get there, then where you end up will most likely not be where you hope.
Are the people you lead laying bricks or building cathedrals? Do you have a strategic plan? Tactical plan? Please share your thoughts <here> and share this blog post with a friend or co-worker.