A form you need to fill in, a business case, a budget, sharing the costs of a trip with friends or meticulously logged information on how much milk you gave to your (first) child and at what time of the day during his first year. Whatever the task, I’m sure somebody has done it in Excel. How could we ever survive without the amazing spreadsheets?
Despite the awesome features and popularity, it takes more than Excel to excel in modern leadership. Even if in the business world, Excel seems ubiquitous to the extent that imagining a business that doesn’t use it is next to impossible.
All the Excel enthusiasm kind of makes sense. Modern leadership in the constant change and chaos may feel overwhelming at times, spurring leaders to seek order. As leading people and businesses generally involves working with abstract and hard to quantify issues, every now and then it is therapeutic to do something that is easy to fill in and give you the feeling of creating order and predictability.
That’s what Excel spreadsheets are all about: they are simplified versions of the complex world – a change in one place automatically affects everything else according to predefined formulas. It’s like a predictable butterfly effect and it works like a charm - on screen, that is.
Excel only takes you so far
The downside is that Excel doesn’t implement the plans for you. Excel doesn't help you to turn plans into action. Once you have crafted your perfect plan, it is up to you to excel in implementation. Make it happen. Walk the talk. Go through the pain for gain. You know, actually do the stuff.
I am not saying you shouldn’t use Excel for planning and try to conceptualize the problem. What I’m saying is that it’s next to never that something carefully planned in Excel actually becomes reality. Excel is missing the purpose behind the plan, the emotion, the warmth, enthusiasm, empathy… basically everything you need to get people onboard with your plan and to explain why the plan exists.
Unless the people involved actually understand the purpose of doing something, implementing your brilliant plan becomes just a mechanical exercise with no greater goal than checking the action point completed as quickly as possible.
Start with plans, score with actions
As rewarding as ticking off action points completed in Excel may feel, it is your actual actions that matter at the end of the day: how successfully you are able to implement your business case, strategy or baby feeding plan. Sticking with your plan is way easier when the people involved understand the purpose of the plan and are committed to make it happen.
Now this is the time to think if you would like your strategy to be a mechanical exercise of implementation or would you rather it to be a joint effort by a team of highly skilled and engaged professionals? Is Excel really enough for you and your team to excel or would co-creating the plan lead to better results?
Co-creating and engaging your team are crucial in modern scalable leadership. To learn more about why and how to scale your leadership, check out our SlideShare on Scalable Leadership.
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