Stay the Course

stay the courseExecution is all about discipline — the regular, consistent practicing of a predefined strategy that improves someone or something. Yet when the going gets tough in the "implementation phase," leaders commonly quit their carefully crafted strategies or change course. In fact, a recent MAP survey found that 70% of CEOs from throughout the country felt that their strategies were the right ones, but only 10% of respondents said the strategies were being implemented correctly due to various roadblocks and hurdles.

The result?

Varying degrees of organizational failure. Since challenges will invariably occur whenever a new strategy is pursued, the best leaders learn to expect those tough times and be fearlessly disciplined about strategy implementation.

Looking ahead, you’ve probably got big plans for 2013 — and you’ve charted the course to achieve your goals, creating sub-plans with strategies that build alignment between your people and your company’s objectives. Here’s how you can boost your odds for success:

Expect rough waters. Simply having a “just do it” attitude when implementing a new strategy isn’t going to get the job done. In fact, it’s downright naïve to think you can institute new directions, policies or procedures without some troubles along the way. Problems will pop up. People will struggle. You’ll possibly even doubt the direction yourself. Expecting all this is the first step to managing these temporary roadblocks with courage.

Surface and manage resistance. Resistance to change is a normal human behavior so expect it. When it comes to understanding what your direct reports or teams are struggling with, the best approach is to create a culture in which you can easily uncover the concerns and issues. How do you do that? Ferociously foster open lines of communication through a candid workplace culture. Demand feedback from your team, direct reports and customers/clients, so there’s genuine understanding and transparency. Listen carefully to concerns and fears — then address them. If people are feeling like they’re truly being heard and that their opinions or insights are valued — and truly addressed — they’re more likely to remain on course with you.

Create ownership in solutions. Whether the struggle or strife is internal or external, turn to your people for the answers. Having them develop solid solutions will not just create ownership and that important “buy in,” but it may spark unimagined, never-before-seen creativity and innovation. All this can be very powerful, motivating your people to ensure that the integrity of the strategy remains intact, so it’s effective and eventually yields results.

When it comes to staying the course, just remember: The only certainty there is in quitting anything — be it a strategy or an approach or a method — is that you’ll never know if you could have done “it,” much less done it well. So don’t give up and, moreover, don’t just do it. Stick to it!

When have your teams resisted new strategies — what did you do about it?


​ The Disciplined Leader

What do the best leaders have in common? The answer is one word: Discipline. A disciplined leader is one who identifies and focuses on the Vital Few: the 20% of activities that will drive 80% of the results. Learn More

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