Leaders who execute well are more likely to add to the bottom line, be on the fast track to success and earn additional growth opportunities.
One particular cohort of leaders I worked with recently identified experts across their company, interviewed them and summarized the critical skills of execution that emerged from the discussions. These critical skills of execution include:
Know the vision and strategy
Successful execution begins with knowing the end goal and establishing a clear strategy to achieve it. Planning and preparation are key factors, but take care to not overcommit, which may lead to discouragement and burnout among employees.
Break a large goal into smaller deliverables and establish SMART criteria: specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and timely. Be clear on the path to the goal and include timelines and intermediate targets to measure progress. Yet, when necessary, modify tactics to suit the situation. Know the priorities of all people on the team and encourage effective oversight with a team focused intently on execution.
Drive for results
Ensure things are done as planned and that people responsible for executing the strategy are taking ownership and committed to due dates and deliverables. Document with metrics and goals, and be specific. Ensure everyone on the team is engaged and aligned with the desired outcomes. Make the metrics transparent for everyone to see progress, yet keep it simple to avoid any risk of confusion among team members.
Provide regular feedback along the way and recognize individual needs and differences as you incorporate this understanding into your discussions. It is very important to keep individuals motivated in a way that is personalized. Engage in routine dialogue to track issues, follow up and identify barriers. Don’t overlook the importance of face-to-face interactions. Where possible, keep things positive to keep positive energy in the team. Empower people; put decisions in their hands to “make it happen,” always in a positive way.
Everyone needs to feel he or she is getting something out of the negotiation. Have a realistic idea of a final compromise. Package negotiating points together so that the people you are negotiating with feel they are getting more. Finally, consider the best alternative to no agreement.
Leaders who execute effectively are excellent models for their employees to emulate. They have a clear vision of what is important and a strategy to achieve it. They align key stakeholders and ensure timely decisions and oversight. While they hold employees to a high standard with clear goals and deliverables, they know boundaries and are willing to set limits — and go to bat for their teams when enough is enough. They drive for results by continually tracking processes, giving timely feedback, building and sustaining critical relationships, and keeping energy high and the tone positive.
One final point seems important to emphasize. In my experience, leaders who execute effectively are also humble about their own roles in the process. It is about the tasks at hand and how to create the right culture to have everyone feel responsible and valued in the process. Leaders have an obligation to help the team be recognized, and help team members gain visibility for their contributions. Employees will go to great lengths to support a leader who puts team members first.
Jay Colker, D.M., MBA, M.A., is core faculty for the master of arts in counseling and organizational psychology program at the Adler School of Professional Psychology. Colker also maintains a human capital consulting practice, is founder of Crowdsourced Coaching, and may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (312) 213-3421. To learn more about Colker, visit crowdsourcedcoaching.com/about-us/