Generating Followership Through Your Strategic Plan

In our previous posts, we touched on strategic planning keys to success. The first focused on the keys for creating the plan and the second post targeted the keys for successful implementation. But we never quite directly addressed the “why” of planning.  Why invest the time, money and energy into creating and implementing the plan in the first place, particularly with the almost constant changes in nearly every organization’s strategic environment? Besides the obvious answer of using strategic planning to stabilize direction and growth, we have witnessed time and again that building and implementing a solid strategic plan is essential to creating followership.

Create-Followership-300x200.jpgLeadership is about generating followership.  Followership is about instilling confidence that there is a firm and effective hand on the tiller, that the destination is worthy, within reach and that the captain will get us there safely.

What erodes confidence in leadership and thus impacts motivation/morale and performance is a belief that management doesn’t have a clue, that they don’t understand the true needs/wants of customers and they aren’t handling the real barriers to high performance within the organization.  “Getting a clue” is the outcome of creating a sound strategic plan using a thorough, comprehensive planning process.  By thorough and comprehensive, we mean a planning process that looks not only at your current product line and customer base, but also includes an examination of your external environment – what is happening in the political, technological, economic, cultural and demographic arenas. A solid process also asks for data on suppliers, substitute products, ease of entry into the market.  And finally, a good planning process takes a hard look inward at the organization.  Where are the bottlenecks, what are the issues, what is holding it back?

Once the “clue is gotten”, then followership hinges on working out what is learned.  If creating the plan equates to getting the clue, then successful implementation is that hinge point. Acting on what you learn by executing the plan is critical to followership.  A well-communicated plan that is thoughtfully and thoroughly implemented results in strengthened support for leadership and genuine followership.

A case in point was work we did years ago with a highly successful chain of grocery stores on the West Coast.  Despite being ranked #1 by customers for both quality and value, their highly competent management group was dispirited.  They saw no commitment from ownership to grow the company or take advantage of market position.  They viewed the organization as treading water.  Taking owners and the upper and middle management group through the Vision Navigation strategic planning process uncorked their potential. They “got a clue”. A clear purpose statement, bold vision of national prominence, set of effective growth strategies, and plans to address long-standing barriers to performance energized the culture of the organization overnight.  An effective, newly empowered CEO then drove accountability for results on the plan and made known to all management and staff leadership’s progress on the strategic work.

That organization still holds one of our top records for plan completion, completing well over 90% of their first-year outcomes.  The result was the most profitable year of their existence and a generous buy-out offer from a competitor.  Their success was driven by strong leadership, committed followership and a really good strategy.

Is it time to generate followership in your organization? We have the tools and process to create your strategic plan and implement it successfully.  Contact us to start the conversation on what might become your most profitable year yet.