Plan Your Race

Marathon runners know that the only way to successfully finish a race is to have a plan…and stick to it. Too many times, inexperienced runners go out at a pace much faster than normal only to lose steam in the grueling last few miles. As a leader, whether in sales, marketing, business development, private equity, etc., it is essential that you run your race relative to a yearly strategic plan. I’ve seen many executives enter a situation aiming to make a big splash and then not have a plan that continues the momentum of the initial success achieved.

Parallel to this, you must take others with you during this process. Your direct reports are your support team and they need to be there with you as you enact your vision. I’ve spoken about never orphaning your CEO or whomever you report to but it’s also imperative not to orphan your team that is executing your strategy.

A smart guidepost to actioning this is to create your dashboard, a collective of goals, metrics, execution tactics, and measurement methods that outline your path to success. It must be designed so that it brings you solace and comfort. The dashboard is how you can communicate your vision to your CEO and get your team on board. Never assume you are in perfect alignment with them or your team without sufficient objective evidence.

I recently accomplished this with a client who inherited a team with a mission that will dramatically raise his profile throughout his organization. In this process, we realized that much of the data he needed only existed in the outgoing executive’s head. My client would have to create his dashboard from scratch. But what’s refreshing about this is that he can start fresh by shaping the organization in his image!

We began with my client scheduling a listening tour. He met each region’s representative from Maine to LA and asked questions about them! If you’ve worked with me, you know how much I stress the importance of being interested first, interesting second. Then, he asked them about the organization, what they’ve observed relative to their previous leadership, and what their commercial projection was for the balance of the year. This was his first level of knowledge, which was essential to crafting his national go-to-market plan.

The next step was customer meetings, which each representative ran. These gave my client great intel about what they were saying about the organization, its vision, and its value proposition.

He was now able to provide constructive criticism of each representative, tailored to the goals each rep shared with him months ago.

The result is that fifteen aligned business development people realize they are now working with a player/coach, not an absent leader!