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Journey – Planning

“Have you got your blue folder?” Not something you hear every day. But, amongst friends and family it is something that is said each time I announce I’m going on a trip somewhere. I have gathered a reputation for my ‘blue folder’ as family holidays have all the relevant planning in the blue folder. The trip to Barcelona with friends several years ago had an accompanying blue folder with all the plans, documents & receipts that I would need. I bucked the trend on our recent NorthCoast500 trip when I turned up with a black folder!

Now, much merriment is made of my folders, but in reality, I find order brings freedom. By spending some time beforehand planning the route, pulling together the documents, it creates freedom. It brings freedom from stress. No working out what shall we do today or looking for documents, tickets or receipts ‘somewhere’. It brings freedom to be present. No worrying about what is next, as it is in the folder. The mind can focus on the moment.

Now, this blog is not a travel blog. It’s a leadership one, and when we take people through the journey of our leadership, planning can again bring freedom. But what is good planning for the journey we take people on?

Purpose driven journey

Behind any journey should be its purpose, as we covered in a previous blog. Our purpose should be at the root of all of our planning too. Our ultimate purpose drives our vision or current direction. Our purpose and vision should then drive our planning. Each time we consider an action or a step, it should be held up against our purpose and vision to see if the step reflects our purpose and where we want to go. A key question is, will this step help us reach the destination we are after. The power of purpose was a topic on one of the Everyday Leader ‘Leadership Lounge Podcasts’ and this can help you consider this element further -

Engaged in the Journey

If you are travelling with others, you can take passengers in the car. But in reality, are they really passengers? What I mean by this, is are they engaged in the journey you are taking? Are they passive captives bundled in the car with no choice in their destination? Or are they travellers with you, wanting too to reach that destination with you? If you travel with small children, maybe they do have to go where you want them to. But, the best journey with others has fellow travellers, not just passengers. In leadership terms, this will depend on which leadership culture you are predominantly in. If you have a dependent leadership culture, in the stage of growing the culture, then you may well have to tell people ‘this is the journey destination and what it looks like’. I worked with a school leader recently and we reflected on even in this culture, telling people about the destination and the route and explaining reasons for decisions is a great modelling tool to engage the team in the process, even if you are having to tell them where we are going. It also models thinking as you try to grow independent leaders.

As you move towards an independent and interdependent leadership culture, the journey destination will be about engaging fellow travellers to plan and shape the route you are taking with you. This will bring engagement. It will also mean reviewing and reflecting on the planned route together. My wife and I planned our recent NorthCoast500 trip together. We looked at the map, the advice for where to visit and planned things we both wanted to do. Therefore, when we hit the tricky ‘Applecross Pass’ it was ‘our’ route, avoiding a blame centred ‘why on earth did we take this route conversation’. This is the same in leadership. Discussing plans together means it is ‘our plan’ and not ‘your plan’ when things get tricky.

Dynamic Planning

I love a good plan, but we must take care to ensure that we own the plan and that the plan does not own us. The plan is a tool and not your master. So, the key element to tame the plan, is to constantly review how it is going. These key questions help:

  • Have things changed from when we set the plan? Is our end goal still the correct end goal? Are any adjustments needed?

  • How has this action/step gone? Has it helped us towards our end goal?

Behind the planning tools

There are all sorts of grids and online software for planning and spreading team involvement and contribution. By all means pick one that works for you and your team. But, the key thing, before all the grids is to get clear on your purpose, how it drives the agenda for the next development and engaging the team in it. If you’re a more experienced leader and you’ve been told ‘what to do’ without being involved in shaping the ‘why we are doing it’, then you will know how disempowering this can be. So, plan for engagement and you’re more likely to plan for empowerment too.

Purpose + Alignment = Shift.

Enjoy planning.

Can’t see the wood from the trees? Not sure how to take things forward? Maybe it’s time for some coaching to help you purposefully plan. Everyday Leader is here to empower, inspire and equip you to do that If we can help you find a way forward, through coaching, do make contact with us. Do let us know if we can be of help to you, by contacting us at


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