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Leadernotes Episode 2 – The Planner

Episode 2 – The Planner

Summary of Episode

Visionary leadership is a style described by Daniel Goleman and colleagues in the book Primal Leadership. It is described as a leader who propels the team towards a shared vision. Guiding them to a final destination without explicitly telling them how, allowing their development as they struggle to get there. This style of leadership requires a firm plan of where the team needs to go. Its plausibility can only be determined by planning the route. To do that, one needs to formulate a strategy.

Robert Greene the author of the 33 Laws of Power and The Art of Seduction reminds us to beware of tainting our strategies with our emotional appraisal of the world and try to get as close as we can to the issues we are trying to solve.

SMART targets

Specific –clear objectives before you begin

Measurable – ability to measure its success

Attainable – realistic goals

Time bound – set yourself milestones

The SMART system is a management technique designed to be a framework for how a project is managed. Make sure to take them with a pinch of salt. Achievable and realistic refer to steps to achieving an overall objective. It doesn’t mean that your overall objective shouldn’t be something that pushes boundaries, is innovative or is unrealistic. Rome was not built in a day.

Gantt Charts

Created in 1910 by Henry Gantt, an American engineer, the gantt chart is a visual representation of the tasks that require completition in a project over time. Tasks can be marked as complete, in progress or to do. Its labour intensive as it requires updating as one goes along, but it is a useful tool when trying to mentally represent a project over time. We find it particularly useful in the aearly planning phases of a project but there are other project management techniques which are arguably more effective as one is progressing through the project.


Shaka’s predecessor’s approach was of a loose coalition of allies under his supreme authority. They had their own leaders and independence but would join him in battle. Shaka disposed of this idea, opting for uniformity. The clan structure was abolished and loyalty to himself was paramount. The importance of this was getting buy in from the young clansmen. Eventually, these conquered tribes and clans regarded themselves as one nation – the Zulu.

The ideologies of Shaka Zulu have been compared to those of the Marian reforms of Rome, one of the most successful empires of ancient times.

“Combined with Shaka’s “buffalo horns” attack formation for surrounding and annihilating enemy forces, the Zulu combination of iklwa and shield—similar to the Roman legionaries’ use of gladius and scutum—was devastating. By the time of Shaka’s assassination in 1828, it had made the Zulu kingdom the greatest power in southern Africa and a force to be reckoned with, even against Britain’s modern army in 1879.”

A consistent standardised approach is not always the way for a large team to be successful. For example, the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has moved more towards a trust-based approach where different areas have different commissioning rules and run things in the way that best serves that community.

The Buffalo Horn strategy (Impondo Zenko)

Reading List

1. Primal Leadership: Learning to Lead with Emotional Intelligence Daniel Goleman, Richard E. Boyatzis, Annie Mckee

2. Smart goals can Sometimes be dumb Published by Forbes Mark Murphy Forbes contributor

3. Guttman, Jon. Military History, Jun 2008, Vol. 24 Issue 4, p. 23-2

4. Donald Morris, ‘The Washing of the Spears,’ Touchstone, 1965.

5. Doran, G. T. (1981). “There’s a S.M.A.R.T. way to write management’s goals and objectives”. Management Review. 70 (11): 35–36.


Nandi Mnyama is a final-year medical student at Hull York Medical School and Scholar at the Healthcare Leadership Academy. She is also a Finance Assistant at Integritas Healthcare CIC and is on the Agenda Committee for Medical Student’s Conference at the British Medical Association

Tinaye Mopako is a fourth-year medical student at the University of Liverpool. He is currently undertaking an intercalated degree in bioethics/medical ethics

Ahmad Elmansouri is a foundation year two doctor at University Hospital Southampton. He undertakes research in medical education and is the co-founder of the Wessex Finals Revision Weekend. He is currently working in general medicine as part of the Covid-19 response.



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