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31 Days to Becoming a Better Leader


Day #21: Team Action Planning

When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps. – Planning CycleConfucius

This is the step for making things happen. It’s the integration of strategy into performance. The team goes into action with the steps they have created, that they now own, you have approved, and all is transparent.

In this step, the accountably mechanism isn’t you. The accountability now rests with the team members themselves. Actually, peer-to-peer accountability is stronger than top down process management. You can have both, but you don’t need to be the daddy or mommy of the group. Let them manage the mutual accountabilities. It’s their performance that matters.

If the team doesn’t perform, it becomes quite evident as to where the problem lies and with whom the issues rest. In this model, everything is transparent.

Here’s the process:

  1. Gather the team – Convene a session for the purpose of creating an action plan to achieve a monthly milestone under a short-term goal for the year. If you haven’t set monthly milestones yet, it’s time to do that. You can do both in a single session.
  2. Create a working space – I use storyboard sprayed with repositionable mounting glue and paper from the printer cut in half. The paper will stick to the cardboard you get at the art story or office supply. It’s a 36×48” tri-fold black report board.
  3. Print out the Short-Term Goal you are working on and place it on the board.
  4. Print out the current milestone for the month. Plan ahead for the upcoming month.
  5. Brainstorm a list of to-dos (action steps) to reach the milestone.
  6. Combine ideas that are practical for one step and create a new note.
  7. Place the items on a board with the header, “Action Item” or “Action Step.”
  8. Write the name of a “Responsible Person” for each item.
  9. Define an Action Date – start date, draft date, completion date, phase one completion date, etc.
  10. Transcribe the notes and send to the group.


  1. You facilitate the process and team members create the content.
  2. Appoint a person to transcribe the notes.
  3. Do not allow cell phones or computers.
  4. Set the next meeting before you adjourn.

Using the process empowers the team for action, sets accountabilities, highlights opportunities for coaching, and creates momentum.

If the team sets the action items, there should be action dates each week moving toward the milestone. The weekly reporting exposes uncompleted tasks that limit your progress.

By the way, keep your name off of any action that someone else can do so you can supervise.

Now, get out of the way and let them perform.

Next: Day #22 – Flash Meetings

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