by Kelly Roddy – July 2015
What is leadership?
“Genuine leadership comes from the quality of your vision and your ability to spark others to extraordinary performance.” – Jack Welch, Former Chairman and CEO of General Electric
Leadership is “organizing a group of people to achieve a common goal.” As a leader, you may or may not have any formal authority. You may be the president of your organization or you may be in an entry level sales position. There are many things that determine your ability to lead, including your ability to positively interact with others, your behavior, your vision, your values, your charisma and your intelligence, among others. One of the key traits of a great leader is the ability to execute at a high level.
As a leader in charge of execution, what do you do? How do you keep from being a micromanager, caught up in the details of running the business? The answer is to exhibit the seven essential behaviors of successful execution management discussed in Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan’s book, “Execution.”
Seven Essential Behaviors
Know your people and your business.
Are you familiar with the details of your business? Are you spending time with your people? Are you asking questions and understanding how they spend their time? Are you only getting your information from your direct reports and peers or are you talking to others in the organization like teammates that work in other departments and customers to understand the details of your business? Leaders know what is going on in their business.
Insist on realism.
Most of us in business and sales are optimists. We always expect the best outcome. That is great, but as eternal optimists we can’t avoid reality. Make sure you are being honest with yourself. Look at the facts. Don’t hide mistakes. We can only make great decisions and execute at a high level if we understand the details and facts of the business. We must be realistic and set priorities against reality.
Set clear goals and priorities.
“We don’t think ourselves into a new way of acting, we act ourselves into a new way of thinking.” ― Bossidy & Charan, Execution
I like to set priorities in groups of five. A few clear priorities done well will produce much stronger and more sustainable results than many priorities done mediocre or not well. Focus on the few key priorities that will have real impact.
This is the area in which I see leaders fail too often. At the end of the day, your clear goals are meaningless if resources are not dedicated to those goals and actions are not happening. There must be follow through mechanisms put in place. You need key performance metrics and scheduled follow-up meetings. Everyone must know what their roles are in the process and what actions are needed.
Reward the doers.
“The foundation of changing behavior is linking rewards to performance and making the linkages transparent.” ― Bossidy & Charan, Execution
Do you want results? Then you must reward people who drive those results. We all need to recognize those who execute at a high level and move things forward for the organization. Sometimes the most meaningful reward is as simple as verbal recognition or a personal note, telling them “Great Job!” The doers are the people who should receive recognition and rewards.
Expand people’s capabilities.
One of your most important roles as a leader is to pass along your wisdom and experience to the next generation of leaders. This is imperative for your aggressive growth plan at your company or team. Teach others.
We all know the importance of character. To lead execution, strong character is critical. You must have the strength of character to deal with the realities of your organization and the strength to give forthright assessments to others in the organization. You also must have the courage to make decisions that sometimes are not easy.
We need great leaders in business and sales. We need leaders with clear vision to execute at a high level to produce positive results. Your ability to lead execution has never been more crucial. Be a great leader of vision and of execution!