Throughout my adult life, I have been fortunate to mentor and coach business professionals who are leading teams and organizations and are ultimately responsible for their employees’ success. I have also mentored and coached youth football players who have relied on me to lead them to victory every Saturday morning.

As I sit back and reflect on these roles, I begin to think about the responsibility we, as leaders, have to actually achieve success. For instance, when I was coaching football, if we lost – what was my role as the leader? After all, I put the plan together. Was it my fault that it wasn’t executed? Or did I not communicate what was needed in order to be successful?

In business, leaders claim to have strategic plans for their organizations. These strategic plans are updated on an annual basis during an offsite retreat where the executive team collaborates to gather all of their hot-topic words or phrases on a nice poster. They then shake hands, and voila – a strategic plan that will guide their entire organization for the next twelve months is produced.

Herein lies the problem: a strategic plan is not something that you do. It is not something where you can check boxes and mark as complete. A strategic plan is something that must be the foundation of your organization’s journey. It should reflect where you want to lead your team and define the impact that it will make once achieved.

Let’s dive deeper into that word – impact. As an executive coach, I have had one-on-one coaching conversations with many individuals that are “busy.” I am not impressed by people that tell me they are busy. Everyone is busy! I am, however, impressed by those that tell me about the impact they make. I can deduce that they are busy on my own.

By combining the planning and the impact, maybe we will not be as busy. Let me explain.

I recently asked a colleague about their next big meeting. I was curious when it was going to take place. They told me it was on the schedule for a few days later. I asked them how they were preparing. They told me about all of the reports, PowerPoints, and other information that was yet to be gathered.

I then asked a question that caught them off guard. I said, “What is the ‘so what’ of your meeting?”

Silence.

I rephrased my question in laymans terms: “What will need to happen in your meeting to walk out of the room on cloud nine? What is the best outcome you can get?”

I could see the wheels turning. The silence was deafening.

They struggled defining their desired outcome.

As a coach, this happens more times than I can count. It is, however, extremely important when it comes to implementing any plan. By focusing on the outcome, we can build a strategic plan more succinctly. We can also see the vision of what we expect.

People are counting on us for their success, whether we know it or not. Having a plan is not enough.  Defining and understanding the best outcome of a strategic plan will allow the process to be built supporting the plan, rather than the day-to-day work attempting to meet a strategy.

Too many times, I have people say they are busy and work hard, only to wonder what it is for.

Are you starting with the end in mind?