In my advisory work with CEOs and other top executives, I work with extremely talented leaders. These executives have vision. They develop winning strategies. They recognize talent and organize top-tier teams. They delegate the work, empower their people, and stay out of the details. And they expect their teams to execute.
But sometimes, execution falls short of expectation. If you’re like many of the leaders I’ve worked with, it’s a familiar and frustrating problem. You have a team that appears to see the vision and understand the strategy but fails to adequately deliver. So, what’s getting in the way? Do you have the wrong people on the team? Or is something else going on?
There are many reasons teams fail to fully execute on strategy. Here are three of the most common, with advice you can use to slow your team down and get back on track.
1. The team doesn’t (really) understand the vision – or they don’t buy in.It may not be obvious that your team isn’t on board with the vision. They are getting things done, but without the clarity and purpose of a compelling vision to drive them.
- Slow down to speed up: Make sure you clearly communicate the vision, and engage your team in the process. Ask them what they understandthe vision to be. Inquire directly, “Do you think we are going in the right direction?” Create an atmosphere that welcomes honest input and embraces new perspectives.
2. There is excessive focus on the short-term. With sales targets to be reached, rapid decisions to be made, and growing pressure from the internal and external environments, there is often a tendency to work on what’s most pressing—regardless of whether it’s also most important. If your team is absorbed in putting out frequent fires, reacting to immediate pressures, and frantically trying to close the gap this week, month or quarter, they won’t be driving activity that supports the long-term strategy or bigger vision.
- Slow down to speed up: While short-term deadlines can’t be ignored, you can help your team strike the right balance. Once they’re onboard with the vision and truly get the strategy, the next step is to emphasize those short-term actions that align with driving the vision and achieving long-term success. Innovation, growth, industry disruption, and market domination are possible only when your team executes in a way that balances short-term needs with the organization’s broader, long-term objectives.
3. There are 100 priorities. If your team is going in too many directions and taking on too many projects, they may successfully move 100 things forward one inch at a time. But they won’t move the important things as far as they need to. And they won’t figure out where and when to say no. They will lack clear parameters for investing time, money, energy, or urgency. And execution will suffer.
- Slow down to speed up: Bring the team together on a consistent basis: consider taking an hour per week, a day per quarter, or a week per year. Use this time to engage the team in a strategic pause—a deliberate break from the daily pressure and busyness of business—to drive clarity and alignment around what’s most important and directly connected to achieving the strategy and realizing the vision.
For additional strategies to help you and your team get better, faster, more sustainable results, check out my new book, Slow Down to Speed Up: Lead, Succeed and Thrive in a 24/7 World. If you love what you read, post a review and receive a personalized, signed copy to keep or gift to a colleague, client or friend. Many of my best clients are providing copies to their teams and engaging my help directly to rapidly accelerate performance in 2018!