Amateurs Wing It, Leaders Prepare

Posted: September 9, 2010 in Leadership Articles

Have you ever been to a meeting, presentation or event that you walked away saying to yourself “that was a total disaster”? I’m willing to bet that there was a serious lack of preparation on the part of the leaders involved in the event.

Many people believe that they can “wing it” and creates a success. The best leaders don’t buy into this and spend serious time preparing for meetings, presentations, and events. They subscribe to the philosophy that LEADERS PREPARE.

Preparation is not taught in college, graduate school or on-the-job leadership training. It is a critical dimension that is often overlooked, but never forgotten, once you see it not occur and lead to an unsuccessful event.

What does preparation look like?

Here are some tips to assist you to prepare and increase the odds that you will be viewed as a professional, organized and “buttoned up” leader.

1. When planning for a leadership role in an event, break the event into 15 or 30 minute intervals. For each interval, plan the work/discussion so the entire event planning does not overwhelm you. You eat an elephant one bite at a time and this interval approach can break that huge preparation into much more manageable pieces.
2. Keep in mind the adult attention span. Most research I have seen states that adult attention span is 45 minutes (I know, it feels like 45 seconds sometimes…). Prepare to this attention span. Don’t create 2 hour brainstorming sessions or a 4 hour conference call on one topic. You will lose people, their energy and support.
3. In your preparation, focus on the sections that will lead to success. These include goals and objectives, processes to meet the goals and objectives, tasks, time allotted, budget, resource requirements, change management plans and monitoring/validating techniques,
4. Buy a lunch and listen to a leader that is successful in leading events. Guarantee that leader prepares! Ask for tips and techniques on what they do to prepare for an event. You may learn something new to add to your preparation or validate what you are already doing. I am a huge proponent of setting aside the ego and asking successful people for their advice. No need to re-create the wheel. Just ask open ended questions and listen!!
5. Use a colleague, team member, or mentor to critique your preparation and give you feedback. Again, set your ego aside and let others “poke holes” in your preparation. You will only get better if you listen and take action on the advice. Remember it’s business, not personal.

Use these tips to be seen as a top notch, professional leader not an amateur. We all want to be involved in successful meetings, presentations, training and events. It takes the leader’s preparation to ensure this will happen.

Make it happen – spend the time preparing; consider it part of the role of a great Leader.

Until next time, Leaders develop daily – not in day.

  1. Linda says:

    Chris, this is SO TRUE… and a good reminder for me!!!!! I have a sales background and I was very successful (in my younger days) with the winging it approach but that is not a good transferable talent when it comes to leading, speaking, training, etc…

    Thanks for challenging us.

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