An interesting article here from HBR, “Only 8% of Leaders are Good at Strategy and Execution.” Their survey, and subsequent research, identified 5 Acts that “help companies close the strategy-to-execution gap.” As the article suggests, think of these 5 Acts as “a chance to create an engine of growth for you personally and for the company (with my editorial comments for your consideration):”
· Commit to an Identity. All of our leadership programs begin with some effort to know yourself. As the adage goes, the first person you must be able to lead…is YOU! We use a powerful assessment tool (Energize2Lead) to help leaders understand their wiring. Rather than change it…own it! We then work with leaders to write their personal leadership philosophy. You are who you are. Be that person – consistently. Ask your team to hold you accountable when your actions do not match your words. Be yourself (if you’ve read my book, you’ll know that is the first tenet of my own leadership philosophy!).
· Translate the Strategic into the Every Day. I like the perspective in the article that leaders need two kinds of perspectives – nearsighted and farsighted. In “Leader Business,” I wrote about a military leader’s eyes while driving down a highway in Iraq, on the lookout for IEDs. Their vision goes from looking far out (How does the road look ahead?) to right under the tires (Any telling signs of trouble along the shoulders, movement of dirt, etc.?). Back & forth; near and far. Yes, the higher up you go, the more time you spend with the far out (strategic). But, you must be able to switch back to the tactical regularly, “get your hands into the mud,” and make sure nothing blows up under the tires. But, make sure it is not at the expense of growing others, empowering them to do their jobs, and such that you only do the tactical and not the strategic! Try driving and only look immediately in front of your vehicle. You won’t make it far!
· Put your Culture to Work. I recently heard Jim Collins (Good to Great) describe culture as the sum of (1) The People Decisions you Make (hiring, firing, promotions, etc.) and (2) The Behavior of Leaders in Key Positions. What are you role modelling for your organization to demonstrate your culture? As the article suggests, you can’t do this from your office (or by email). You need to be seen and heard. That is your culture!
· Cut Costs to Grow Stronger. No resource is more important to you and your team than your personal time and attention. Allocating enough to both strategy and execution, every day, will put you in what appears to be elite company. Just look at the week ahead. My guess is you’ve got plenty of activities planned for influencing execution (project reviews, metrics, meetings, etc.) What about the bigger picture? Where will you influence the strategic thinking of your organization? Be deliberate about both.
· Shape the Future. This one is huge. Leaders must seek ways to “build an extremely capable team, knowing that ultimately the future will depend on developing the next generation of leaders.” What are you doing to grow your leaders – this week? Challenge them, push them, grow them. Look at what you have budgeted for leadership development at all tiers of your organization.
It goes without saying that I am here to help with all of these “Acts,” especially the last one. I want to help you and your leaders be a part of that apparently very elite club – the 8%!! Let me know how I can help! That's Leader Business!