Leadership: Prior planning prevents poor performance

In the often dangerous world of Navy Aviation we had a mantra that was drilled into us from basic officer flight training: “Prior Planning Prevents Poor Performance”.  Our 3 and 4 hour preflight for what was often a 10 hour flight in the maritime patrol community often demonstrated the wisdom of that axiom.  When the you-know-what and unexpected hits the fan during a challenging operation, it’s necessary to have a plan, options.  I’ve found that to be true in most important areas of life, especially in leadership roles.  Planning can be boring, but the alternative, not planning, can have unpleasant consequences: perhaps life-threatening, or life-changing consequence.  The key to success is to imagine what lies ahead and prepare for all realistic eventualities.  As a seminar speaker, I would arrive at least two hours early to each speaking engagement in order to check out the room, “preflight” the audiovisual and sound equipment, etc.  Like a pilot with back-up charts, I’d also bring back up hard copies of my presentation in case my computer locked up, etc.  Basically, I’d plan for all of those unpleasant “what if’s”.  As a leader, a manager of people, it is important for you to be prepared for meetings with others: review names, projects assigned, notes from previous meetings, etc. prior to each new encounter.  What were the action items for me, and for them, from our last discussion?  What is my goal for this encounter?  Don’t trust your memory.  I use a checklist for complex activities, such as staff meetings, just like I would if flying my airplane.  Whether you are a pastor, nonprofit CEO or a youth leader, the organizational skill of prior planning is contagious and respected by those you lead… and sets the tone for an effective use of time and resources.  You will perform better, and be respected for it!  Hold yourself accountable for the behavior you expect in others.  PPPPP.

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