Purposeful Leadership: 4 Strategies for Being Prepared

Originally published
Originally published: 10/1/2013

How a prepared leader sets the tone for others to model


Purposeful leaders must be prepared. But being prepared takes time and commitment. All too often, business owners end up “winging it” rather than putting in the time necessary to be prepared. Here are four strategies that will help you be a prepared, purposeful leader who sets a tone others will model.

1. Know what you want to accomplish.
This sounds simple, and it is the most fundamental step. But it is often the most neglected aspect of being prepared. How many times have you met with a customer, or led a meeting, but hadn’t taken the time to come up with clear expectations of what you wanted to accomplish? If we are all really honest, we would admit there have been many times we have gone in unprepared and, as a result, did not accomplish anything.
I take at least an hour prior to any meeting I lead to compile my notes and thoughts into an agenda. My agenda is based on what I am trying to accomplish in the meeting, which keeps me on track about the purpose for the meeting.

2. Know the message you want to get across.
Don’t confuse what you want to accomplish with the message you want to get across to your team. Both are very important, yet very different. Let’s say you want to convey the importance of Service Agreements to your team. Knowing this is what you want to accomplish, you could say, “Service Agreements are important: go sell them.” In this example, you have conveyed what you want to accomplish, but you haven’t delivered it in a way that carries the proper message.

As I have written in past articles, you must understand the importance of people’s underlying motivation. You can then properly craft the message to garner the support needed to accomplish your goal.
Another example would be a sales call. We all know that our goal — what we want to accomplish — is to sell the job. If you meet with your customer unprepared and without a clear message, more than likely, you will not accomplish your goal of closing the sale. Know what you want to say and how you want to present it before you show up for a meeting or before you meet with a customer.

3. Conduct dry runs to “get it right.”
I use several people, both inside and outside of my company, as sounding boards. I prepare my presentation and share it with them before I ever lead a meeting. I go as far as telling them what I want to accomplish and how I want to present the message so they can be critical of what I have put together. I want people to push back and ask me questions when I do my dry runs. Without this, I am not nearly as well prepared as I should be. I want to hear them ask, “What do you mean by this or that?” This tells me my message is not on target. In a real meeting, I would be leaving people wondering what I expect them to do. Once I get through my dry run, I am able to make the necessary tweaks to my presentations and am much more prepared for the real meeting.

4. Be early to your own meeting.
Don’t show up exactly at the time of the meeting in a rush to get set up. This sets a clumsy and disorganized tone and will diminish what you are trying to accomplish. Being prepared means your presentation is already up on the screen when your team shows up, papers are handed out, tables are set with chairs in place, etc. This exudes a sense of purpose that will carry over into the meeting you are conducting and will greatly impact what you are trying to accomplish. Everyone will know that what you are presenting is important.

Some of the bi-products of preparedness are that you are confident and on-task for the delivery of what you want to accomplish and the message you are trying to convey. Never forget that when you stand up and talk, everyone is not only listening, but they are going to model your behavior. If you are prepared, you have set the expectation in your organization that everyone else should also be prepared. If you show up to a meeting and just wing it, those who work for you will also show up to meetings and just wing it. The bottom line is: YOU set the tone in your company; what you model is what will happen. Be prepared, and your management team and workforce will do likewise. You will find that greater success follows.

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