It came to my attention, through feedback, that I have a tendency to contingency plan situations before efforts even start on the main plan. At first I took this feedback and felt like responding “you’re welcome” because I felt by doing this I was doing my part to find solutions for problems we yet to experience. I was providing a backup plan, focused on meeting the objective.
I actually felt these contingency plans were motivational in a way, because I would communicate this backup plan to others. I felt this was motivational in the sense that “Hey, good news, if this doesn’t work we have a back up plan. Be confident in our goal; we have a plan AND a back up plan.”
I see now why that can be destructive to a team, and dilutes buy-in rather than strengthens it. Simply put: If you have a leader who seemingly doesn’t believe in the plan… then how do you follow confidently? If that leaders seems to assuming some form of failure… then how do you follow confidently? Are you really leading if people are not following you confidently?
I’ve been listening to myself in everyday meetings or one off conversations, and have been reminding myself of this simple statement: “Contingency plans are not motivational.” It’s helping… it’s helping to remember that to lead you must set a vision of the future that others want to move towards, regardless of what effort that will take. Sometimes that journey will be hard and need to take turns unexpectedly, but such is life and no one should act surprised.
I need to think more about how contingency planning comes into my leadership, and certainly need to think about how I share the plans with others.