Leading is planning

a5ddd7719a51e1b134c7054d2fc25e3bSince the past 10 weeks during which elections were approaching and conducted, I have been examining the concept of leadership based on a morphological approach of taking each letter as a distinctive quality. Today, leaders have emerged across the country and the victory of those who won the elections was based on their planning. The last letter of the word “LEADERSHIP” is “P” and it represents planning!

To be a leader, planning is a crucial requirement, believe me. As a matter of fact, nothing can be achieved in life without planning. The “5-P” Principle states that “Proper Planning (or Preparation) Prevents Poor Performance”. Both in the micro world of the school and the macro world of the larger society, the maxim is unassailable: “To fail to plan is to plan to fail”.

Failure is the automatic result of having no plan or a bad plan. A student plans to pass his exams; a politician plans to win elections; a businessman plans to make profits; a teacher plans his lessons. There is no one that does not need planning as everyone is a real or potential leader. Everyone is a leader at his/her level.

What is planning? Planning is the act of formulating a course of action. As Altalib Hisham puts it, “it is a way of making our mistakes on paper. It is the process of gathering information and making assumptions about the future to formulate those activities necessary to achieve organizational objectives. It ensures purposeful and orderly activities by directing all efforts towards results.”

All the success of this world is the outcome of planning though all failure is not necessarily a result of lack of it. If you make planning a part of your life, you are a leader but if you don’t plan, you cannot be a true leader. Major achievements are not recorded by accidents; rather they are products of meticulous planning.

In school, it is the dream of most students to succeed and excel but few students plan to achieve the dream. For a student, planning to excel involves, though not limited to, obedience to constituted authority, attending lectures punctually, doing assignments and tests, being prayerful and faithful, having a personal time table and reading well as well as avoiding bad behaviour and anti-social groups.

A dream without an action plan will lead to a nightmare. So, when there is a goal, the appropriate thing is to plan to accomplish it. To build a house, the first thing is to have a plan. Without a building plan, a standard house cannot be built.

Unfortunately, the problem with many of us is that we do not plan. There are people in leadership positions that live each day without a plan of where they are heading to. The apartheid President of South Africa, P. W. Botha, gave a caustic speech and racist rant published by the “Sunday Times” of South Africa on August 18, 1985, in which he took us Blacks to the cleaners as a result of the culture of “planlessness” .

After asserting that the Black and the White are not equal as “lizards are not crocodiles” though they look alike, he said we are not capable of ruling ourselves. “…By now everyone of us has seen it practically that the Blacks cannot rule themselves. Give them guns and they will kill each other. They are good in nothing else but making noise, dancing, marrying many wives and indulging in sex…

“Secondly, most Blacks are vulnerable to money inducements… And here is a creature that lacks foresight. There is a need for us to combat him in long term projections that he cannot suspect….The average Black does not plan his life beyond a year: that stance, for example, should be exploited….”

As distasteful as the analysis is, the bitter truth is that many people don’t even plan their day, not talk of a year! There should be a daily plan, a weekly plan, a monthly plan and an annual plan. There should be short-term plans, mid-term plans and long-term plans for individuals and organisations. There are good plans; there are bad plans. Bad plans are ruinous and counter-productive, like planning to cheat in the exams or rig elections.

Those who plan make things happen; those who don’t plan see things happen and wonder. That an opposition party would win national elections in Nigeria did not just happen; it was the outcome of a meticulous planning that was followed through.

Ultimately, leadership involves love, example, action, discipline, excellence, responsibility, sacrifice, honesty, integrity and planning.