September 2023

Taking Action: What's Your Plan?

By Erin Yeagley

Leadership Excellence Course

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Obviously, nothing ever happens without some kind of action. Taking action that leads to your success requires thinking, planning, and goal setting. You cannot go from wish to fulfillment without constructive action and participation on your part. Successful leaders implement “Action Plans”. But how do they do it? What are the steps?

Drafting an action plan is a crucial step in helping you achieve your goals effectively and efficiently. It involves outlining specific steps and goals to achieve a particular objective or bring a project to completion. A well-structured action plan can help you stay organized and focused. Think of it as a roadmap that fosters accountability and helps you stay on track, while allowing for adaptability in the face of challenges or changing conditions. Whether you're working on personal projects, business initiatives, or any other endeavor, an action plan is a valuable tool for success.

Here are the recommended steps to create an effective action plan:

  1. Define Your Objective — Clearly state the goal or objective you want to achieve. Keep it S.M.A.R.T. For example, "Increase website traffic by 30% within six months."
  2. Identify Stakeholders — Determine who will be involved in the project or affected by its outcome. This could include team members, clients, partners, or other relevant parties.
  3. List Key Tasks — Identify the main tasks and activities that need to be completed to reach your goal. Be as detailed as possible and consider dependencies between tasks.
  4. Prioritize Those Tasks and Set a Timeline — Determine the order of importance and the sequence in which tasks should be completed. Focus on high-priority tasks that have the most significant impact on your objective, then establish a realistic timeline for achieving your goal. Break it down into smaller time frames, such as monthly, weekly, or daily tasks.
  5. Allocate Resources and Assign Responsibilities — Identify the resources needed for each task, such as personnel, budget, equipment, or materials. Ensure you have access to these resources. If applicable, clearly define who is responsible for each task or activity. Assign roles and responsibilities to team members or individuals involved.
  6. Set Milestones — Establish specific milestones or checkpoints to track your progress. These can serve as indicators of success and help you stay on track.
  7. Obstacle Assessment — Identify potential obstacles and challenges that may arise during the project. Develop contingency plans or strategies to solve or mitigate these risks.
  8. Communication Plan — Define how you will communicate progress, updates, and issues to team members, stakeholders, or relevant parties. Ensure everyone is on the same page.
  9. Monitor, Measure, and Be Flexible — Continuously track your progress against the milestones and timeline you've set. Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to measure success. Be flexible and willing to adapt your action plan as circumstances change. If you encounter unexpected challenges or opportunities, revise your plan accordingly.
  10. Review, Evaluate, and Document Everything — At predefined intervals, evaluate the outcomes against your initial goal. Keep detailed records of your action plan, including task assignments, timelines, and any changes made. This documentation can be valuable for future references and similar projects. Once the plan is complete, identify lessons learned and areas for improvement. We call this the AAR or After-Action Review.

This dynamic process requires ongoing monitoring and adjustment. Your development as a leader is a continuous journey, and it's normal to encounter challenges and setbacks. Stay resilient, keep learning, and stay committed to your main objectives and your growth as a leader. By following these steps, you can increase your chances of achieving your goals. But remember — The plan won't work if you don't work the plan. It's up to you.

In addition to drafting a Leadership Philosophy, all attendees of our Leadership Excellence Course also create personal Action Plan for immediate implementation. 2024 classes are now forming, so be sure to reserve your seat today!