A Scot’s Guide to a Better Battle Plan

Alex Pollock

In the midst of a cold, snowy Michigan winter I’ve been enjoying rediscovering and reflecting on my Scottish heritage. I’m finding it much more enjoyable now than I did many years ago in my Scottish secondary school. I’m reconnecting with heroes like Robert the Bruce, Bonnie Prince Charlie and of course William Wallace of “Braveheart” fame. (Who can forget the blood chilling cry of Mel Gibson’s Wallace:  “All men die but few really live?”)

Scottish history is filled with battles, won and lost, strained relationships, treachery and deceit, martyrdom, amazing acts of patriotism and important legacies to our society beyond kilts, bagpipes, whiskey and golf. ( See “How the Scots Invented the Modern World” by Arthur Herman.)

In the next few blogs I’d like to share my leadership reflections from Scottish history and stir conversation around themes like; the importance of planning, conflict resolution, the importance of a cause and the power of celebration.

When bravado becomes disconnected from brains the results can be devastating. Many battles were lost before they began because actions were initiated before adequate plans were developed.

John Maxwell the leadership expert describes nine simple steps in the leadership planning process:

P: Predetermine your course of action

L: Lay out your goals

A: Adjust your priorities

N: Notify key personnel
A: Allow time for acceptance

H: Head into action

E: Expect problems

A: Always point to your successes

D: Daily review your progress
What are your golden rules for planning? What frustrations have you overcome? How can we better decide when the planning stops and implementation begins? We can learn from your experiences.

About Alex Pollock

Alex Pollock has been studying leadership effectiveness for more than 30 years. A former leader in environment, health and safety, and public affairs at The Dow Chemical Co., he learned that we all have leadership roles to play. He enjoys discussing new ideas and sharing practical ways we can all become better leaders.

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  1. The Green Tie

    March 10, 2011

    Thank you Alex. I very much enjoy hearing how you are inspired as well as reading your “pearls of wisdom.” As always your blog has given me an opportunity to reflect. – Carol Neuvelt

  2. Stephen Evanoff

    March 13, 2011


    Thanks for another thought provoking piece and for reminding us readers that good leaders operate on timeless principles and are not impulsive, they think through and plan their course of action.

    One of my golden rules is to fit the organization’s cultural norms of planning, without compromising on the integrity of my planning process.

    One of my father’s golden rules was “learn from other people’s mistakes,” which I loosely translate into networking and benchmarking as part of planning.

    I look forward to the next installment in your Scot’s Guide series.

  3. Stephen Evanoff

    March 13, 2011


    Was John Wooden as Scotsman? Whether he was or not, his pyramid of success is built on the elements of good planning and preparation.

  4. Alex Pollock

    March 14, 2011

    Thanks for taking time to comment Carol and Stephen. Scotland would be proud to claim John Wooden but I think the USA has a greater pull. I would have loved to spend time with this wise gentleman. He knew that “people don’t care what you know until they know you care.”

  5. 4granted

    March 16, 2011

    Good planning requires time to “just think,” which most of us rarely get. Love what Mark DeMoss says, “Good thinking isn’t one more task of a multitasker, it needs its own time.”

  6. Alex Pollock

    March 21, 2011

    Thanks for your comment. Please allow me to add this thought. Great plans are developed from vigorous conversations among the best people we can gather around us. We must capture the best ideas in innovative and bold ways, mainly from the bottom up. In our strategy include our best plans but also account for what happens when our plans collides with reality.

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