Strategy in September
In the past five years, I’ve worked with over 2,500 leaders. As a third-party objective observer, I gain a unique perspective, observing the strengths of the skilled men and women I’ve come to know. So in the spirit of “back to fall” and the strategic thinking that accompanies most leaders in September, I’ve gathered some observations as we get into full “re-engage” mode ahead of these last critical months of the year.
I hear lots about strategy this time of the year—usually good strategy—but unless your strategy is clearly and consistently communicated with your team and they’re engaged in the process, you risk losing the opportunity to turn good strategy into great results. When working with your team, without sounding too harsh, sometimes it’s wise just to keep quiet and listen to them! They’ll take greater ownership and your people will be more engaged & energized.
Leaders are often Kolbe “Quick Starts”—they love new ideas and starting afresh. But before you throw out everything, think again about the flywheel concept from the book, Good To Great by Jim Collins. The discipline in building slowly and steadily leads to greatness. It may take a little longer, but you’ll build a much stronger foundation, with steady momentum for staying the course over time.
In order to beat the competition, some leaders put a large number of metrics in place, attempting to measure everything at once, with many different criteria. The problem? They end up heading off into too many directions and chasing too many ideas. Time to re-focus. Be the best at “one big thing” by defining what you want to be known for most, and how you’ll measure it, e.g. the most sales per FTE, or the best customer experience.
Having the right people in the right positions is one of the prime ingredients for building a great team and a great organization. Before you set out your vision, strategy, and tactics (the “what”), look at the “who” in your group. A tool like Kolbe Right Fit is incredibily useful here, used both for hiring the right people, and identifying who clearly isn’t in the right job for your team.
These are just a few of my observations—as a next step, why not “re-generate” a few observations of your own?
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A Re-Look at a Great Classic
Most of you know Good To Great—the bestseller that analyzed enduring great companies through the question, “how good companies became great companies”. The book is well worth looking at again, especially these three key concepts:
1. First who, then what
The executives in great companies put the “right people on the bus” before they decide where to “drive the bus”. Hire the right person (and take the time to hire right); don’t delay the inevitable, that is, remove or reassign the wrong people; and remember, give your right people great opportunities.
2. The Hedgehog Concept
Hedgehogs ask, “What can I be the best at”, not “how can I be the best at everything?”. Become a Hedgehog— focus on what you can do well—rather than a fox that runs around in all directions looking for millions of ways to win. You’ll end up with a clear advantage while “fox-like” organizations remain scattered and diffused.
3. Think Flywheel (positive momentum) not Doom Loop (negative momentum)
You only have to imagine the power of a steady flywheel, set in motion through consistent hard work, to understand the importance of building your team and organization through co-ordinated evolution. Compare this approach to the “doom loop” (aptly named) that accelerates quickly with great fanfare but lacks the patient energy to sustain results over time.
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