If an organization can’t execute, nothing else matters. A survey conducted by OnPoint Consulting found that companies and leaders that consistently deliver results use five actions to close the execution gap.
1. Develop and use action plans. Action plans are the cornerstone of execution. Rather than being seen as a waste of time, leaders need to appreciated action plans for what they can do: clarify expectations and accountability, align and coordinate individuals and teams, ensure adequate resource allocation, and help leaders take action on problems before they derail an initiative.
2. Expect top performance and hold people accountable. Although leaders know it’s important, many still hesitate to hold others accountable. One reason is lack of clarity around what the person is accountable for in the first place. Potential conflicts can be minimized when everyone knows what is expected. Plus, being clear about expectations reduces the likelihood of having to have the discussions in the first place.
3. Increase cooperation and collaboration. We rely on others to get things done, which means cooperation and collaboration are key to success. The challenge is ensuring the conditions that motivate people to focus on the group’s best interest, without trading off their own interests, are in place: clear communication, shared goals, and clearly defined roles.
4. Enhance judgment and decision making. Two factors improve decision quality. One, involve the right people to include their perspectives and fill in information you may not have. Two, use a systematic process to prevent emotions or biases from clouding the issues or to avoid defaulting to past decisions.
5. Facilitate change readiness. Modeling behaviors is the primary differentiator of the most effective change managers. This goes beyond verbally endorsing a change. Employees want to see words backed up with behavior – this is how they judge how effectively someone leads change.
When these elements are in place leaders will see improvement in their ability to execute plans and initiatives, and most importantly, ensure that their mission statement actually rings true.