[May 14, 2014] The Boy Scout motto is “be prepared.” The individual scout, as part of their leader training, is taught to be in a constant state of readiness. Combat-proven leaders and the most successful tactical leaders know that the original plan never survives contact with the enemy, so best be ready with an alternative to accomplish the mission.
For leaders, this means they are prepared with a back-up plan. This is also true for senior executive leaders, perhaps more so because their failure has far greater impact.
Leaders, however, frequently fail to have a back up. Whether this is due to intellectual laziness, a lack of intelligence, or insufficient time and resources to plan – is unimportant because failures will still occur. Having no back-up plan is a sign that the leader is not prepared for senior leader duties.
One method of measuring the success of a leader is to discuss what they plan to do when plans go awry. If there is a detailed and workable solution, then you are speaking with someone who will be successful in the end. If there is no back up or one that is only sketchy in details, then expect this leader not to last.
The fact that the Boy Scout founder Robert Baden-Powell1 ensured that boys are taught the important basics of leadership is impressive. Leaders in our modern and complex society should be at least as diligent as those scouts are and have prepared themselves and their organizations to be in a state of readiness.
They must have a workable back-up plan.
[Don’t forget to “Like” the Leader Maker at our Facebook Page.]