Only 8% of Leaders Are Good at Both Strategy and Execution + More

It seems like there is an obligatory “Happy New Year” looming out there, however I hope that everyone had a safe and happy one.  This week’s article that I’d like to focus on is one from HBR about leaders and their ability to be good at both strategy AND execution – it’s a challenge I face myself at times, and this article starts unwrapping some of the ways you can strive for this yourself, including committing to an identity, translate your strategy into the everyday, put your culture to work, cut costs to grow stronger, and shape the future.

In addition to those thoughts, there’s something to be said around value-added management:

Managing in the New Millennium

  • Greater reliance on self-direction within organizations also leads to the empowerment of the employee
  • Technology not only enables business but creates a drain on resources as well
    • Also makes it more and more difficult to disconnect from work and keep life in balance
  • The successful organization has to get comfortable with the discomfort of virtual meetings – with the breadth and scope of the global business today, it is unsustainable to depend on old practices for a new millennium
  • Time is even more valuable as we optimize our workforce and therefore wasted time in unnecessary meetings and the like has an ever growing cost to the organization
  • You have to trust your people to do their jobs with clear direction from you so you can focus on discovering the unknowns
  • If you dislike learning and growth, being a leader isn’t for you

Understanding the Role of a Manager and Leader

  • The minimum is to lead by example and from the front – but be real/human.
  • Be contagious with your attitude
  • To define success, you have to have a clear connection to where you’ve been, where you are and where you need to go
  • Share the development of plans amongst the team so that you end up with a vision that is shared by all
  • How can you possibly expect people to excel and take on training/growth if you don’t enable it?
  • Part of an action-oriented, empowering culture is one that is fun
  • While there is a need to manage from the top and empower the bottom, be wary/pay attention to the sides
  • Part of your reality is that you are the impetus behind and the champion for organizational change
  • Focus on the customer and the rest will follow … and all of your employees are customers
  • Never settle for less than that which is possible, even if it seems improbable
  • The unspoken part of empowering your people to grow and learn and leading by example is that you push yourself out of your comfort zone constantly through your own growth/learning
  • Know what you want, how to measure it, and have the courage to make change when change is needed

Leadership Best Practices:

  • Leading by example
  • Rewarding the culture you want
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate
  • Learning about the little things and recognize them
  • Have open office hours but get out on the floor as well
  • Finding out how decisions will impact the team broadly before enacting it
  • Active listening with quick decisions
  • Develop your people
  • Transparency that breeds employee empowerment and trust
  • Clear and actionable strategy that relates on the individual level
  • A clear and cohesive vision that is easily communicated

Leadership Worst Practices:

  • Unwilling to accept feedback and implement change
  • Rewarding seniority or playing favorites in lieu of performance
  • Arbitrary rules that block progress
  • Don’t rely on past performance to dictate future success
  • Lack of a full bench which blocks future promotion
  • Withholding information for personal gain and control/power
  • Culture of dishonesty
  • Lack of cohesive management vision or vision whatsoever
  • Management through intimidation
  • Forceful top-down management
  • Lack of performance recognition/differentiation in recognition
  • Setting unrealizable goals

A couple of other interesting articles I found this week were Peter Diamandis’s Top 10 Breakthroughs for 2015, 10 Principles of Leading Change Management from strategy+business, and How William Cleveland Turned Data Visualization Into a Science.

Last, Pierre Boulez, the composer and conductor, passed away yesterday at the age of 90 – he was a titan in music and the Times has a great piece that tells of his career and impact on music and society.

Next week, more of a digest, fewer bullet points – until then, be well!

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