Strategizing and being strategic is a catch-all phrase for a lot of people. We want to be strategic; so we develop a business strategy. More often than not our business strategy is poorly defined or not even a strategy; it is simply a goal. Your “strategy” doesn’t tell you what you are going to do; it just tells you what you are going to accomplish or what the results of your efforts will be. Using the term “Strategic Plan” confuses the issue. What businesses need is a defined process that will accomplish specific goals. That process must also be executed to add value. Executing your business strategy is as important as having a strategy.
Why is strategy and strategy execution so hard?
Let’s start with a definition: what is a strategy? It is simply a set of guiding principles or behaviors that drive decision making. It is how the organization makes decisions, assigns resources all to accomplish specific goals. It isn’t your Mission, Vision or Values but they play an important role in the development of your strategy. Strategy is the map you will follow to accomplish your goals. Once you’ve established the strategy you need to execute it.
Strategy Execution starts with the business owner or the person they have chosen to lead their business. Many times either of them takes on the role of watching instead of doing. That isn’t their role. Their role is to do 3 key things. These are:
- Getting the right people
- Setting the right direction
- Leading the operation of the plan.
A significant part of that involves delegation and trust. The leader must not only trust themselves, but they must also trust those who are on their team. Leaders that over micro-manage or refuse to allow others to actively lead and participate will fail in execution. These leaders are an obstacle to success. The skills leaders must achieve for a successful business are:
Know their employees and their business. They have to live what their business does and be committed to its success
Practice realism. The business dictionary defines this as; “ Practical or pragmatic orientation that relies on hard facts and considers things as they are and not as they should be or think they are. This means not only knowing the weaknesses but being prepared to acknowledge and address them.
Set clear goals and establish priorities. Limit these to a small number. Too many clouds the objective, too many and the team cannot focus.
Follow up and through. If you aren’t checking and not ensuring that you do what you say you will do, no one else will either.
Reward those who succeed. People expect to be rewarded for doing well. This not only means rewarding those who bring you honest feedback that helps the plan succeed but to recognize that you need the emotional talent to accept that you don’t know everything; your team fills that gap.
Grow the skills and knowledge of your employees. Coach your team, teach them. Give them the knowledge and training necessary to succeed. This includes knowledge about the state of your business.
Know and trust yourself. If you can’t trust your own judgment your team will figure that out and begin to not trust one. Trust lost is hard to regain, sometimes impossible.
Remember, you will get back what you put up with based upon how you conduct yourself. Your very conduct, every day, sets the path for how your business executes the plans and operations you want and need to be done. If you feel the need to do everything and not allow others to pull their share, you will end up with a team that lets you do just that. Not only will you be overworked, but your business will also fail.
This is just a small part of the discipline of effectively executing a plan or strategy. Master these key pieces and your business will be well on its way to sustainable growth and success.