I had an amazing visit with a senior executive last week to kick-off a 7-month leadership development program here in Denver, Colorado. Our conversation focused mostly on the concept of execution.
When people speak of leadership, they often describe visionary and charismatic people. They rarely speak about the need for leaders to be involved in the execution of a vision. But without a focus on execution, a leader's vision often goes unrealized and organizational change efforts fail. Here are a few key principles that guide this executive.
Create centers of synergy. These are literally physical areas within your office where people can collaborate. This can be as simple as adding or removing a wall between work areas or sprucing-up conference and huddle rooms. The key point is that execution only works when people willingly and openly collaborative.
Develop a culture of accountability. This is perhaps one of the most challenging imperatives a leader has when he steps into an organization that hasn't been held accountable in the past. And, without true support from upper management, shifting to a culture of accountability won't survive resistance from those who don't want to be held accountable in the first place.
Understand what you do best (and outsourcing the rest). For example, if your organization is great at managing plant operations, then why are your people spending so much time on caring for the grounds? If your team is best at software development, why do they get drawn into technical support? The best leaders understand their team's strengths and core purpose and actively optimize their performance by keeping them focused on their core competencies.
Monitor the right metrics - religiously. We've all heard the saying ' what gets measured gets done.' The challenge is that leaders often measure the wrong things. As a result, they drive the wrong behaviors.
Reward the top performers. Do you want to see more of the good stuff? Then recognize and reward people who act in alignment with your goals and core values.
Focus on one area at a time. Often times leaders try to push too much change through an organization that isn't ready. The execution-oriented leader, though, knows how to focus change efforts based on the readiness of an organization.
Leadership comes in all shapes and forms. Some leaders are great at closing deals. Others at mergers and acquisitions. But the leader who can generate sustained excellence also realizes the need to focus on execution.