#963 – Leaders Use Short Term to Plan Long Term

There’s quite a buzz these days in the city of Detroit. It’s not because the economic issues of the city have turned around. It’s not because the city’s schools have revolutionized. It’s not because crime and blight have disappeared. The city is a buzz because of one main thing…the Detroit Lions (to be fair, the Detroit Tigers had an awesome season!!)

Having lived in the Detroit area for a little over a decade, this is the first time I can remember being excited about Lions football. I don’t mean just a little excited, I’m referring to off the chart, can’t wait until each Sunday kind of excitement. The thrill of having the Honolulu-Blue have such a great start to the season means a couple of things:

1. The annual Thanksgiving Game will mean something;,
2. A long term plan can pay off..even when the short term is a little rough

When the new coaches for the Lions joined the team three years ago, the team was coming off the worst record in the history of the National Football League (0-16). Not only had it been a terrible season, it has been a long, long time in a city that is a great sports town, but could really get behind a winning football team. About every three years, a new coaching staff would come in with a plan, all hoping to be the ones to lead the team out of the NFL basement. But for various reasons, those plans would fail and a new staff will be ushered in.

Now whether or not this team and staff is different is still too early to tell. There aren’t any championships to hang a hat on yet and the season is still relatively young. But this example is a nice parallel for leaders when they are setting up a plan for the future. I call them the “Three P’s” to long range planning.

P number 1 is People.   This “P” is about getting to know people (relationships) and having the right people in place. When leaders come in, they have to begin getting to know the people within the organization. This doesn’t necessarily mean uncomfortable “ice-breaker, get to know me games” But it does mean to take some time and little by little and get to know your people. That doesn’t happen immediately. For the relationship to be real it has to happen over a period of time, but the process should be intentional. Too many fake attempts of relationship building will seem disingenuous and will be counter-productive.
After you start to get to know the people, that will allow the leader to start to make decisions about whether or not they have the right people and the right people in the right place (a la Jim Collins). But you can’t make that determination until a real evaluation of your people takes place.

P number two is Plan. A solid way to plan is to spend some time using short term experiences to develop a long range plan. Looking into the future can’t happen within the first few weeks of the leaders tenure and the results may prove to be weak if the plan is rushed out too soon. A good plan will involve time, feedback from all stakeholders and the willingness to have patience to see it through.

P number three is Patience.  Leaders want to see great results and many will want those results to happen as soon as possible. That makes the leader feel confident in the plan that they set forth. However, good things come to those who wait, so the saying goes and patience is such a key to achieving long term results. Patience is a key to building good relationships, patience is integral to planning and patience is essential to seeing things through and achieving long term success.

So, will the Lions have a great season? I for one hope so, but whether or not they win it all, the lessons of long term planning, people, planning and patience are ones to take and use.

GO Lions and GO Lead!

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