So, there are multiple articles on importance of Execution Excellence and how strategy is meaningless till it gets executed. The first step of executing strategy is Strategy Execution Planning (SEP). This is converting strategies into sub-strategies, which need to be converted into programs and projects, which in turn comprise actionables with definition of success, responsibilities and due dates.
However, all these strategies and Strategy Execution Planning remains on paper if your leadership team is not aligned to the goals and strategies to begin with and to SEP later on. By leadership team, I am referring to the layers 2 and 3 below the CEO. Typically, Layer 2 leaders are really part of building the vision, strategies and SEP details (if you know of an organization where the CEO is doing all of this by herself, then I shall show you an organization which is not going to survive through the next business cycle bust). So, it’s “aligning” the Layer 3 leaders with this strategy formulation and execution that I am referring to in this piece.
If you have a problem of using the word “align” (“Aligning” of course is a silly word, which typically could be used for “aligning cattle to move” in the direction you want them to move), you may use the word “orient” instead of “align”. Orienting leaders into the vision-strategy-execution process as early as possible is very important. So that they can speak the same content, language and grammar that one would like to get communicated to the frontline employees. More importantly, these leaders typically have their own views on the optimal way of delivering results. While respecting those different views on execution, it is a must to ensure that there should be no difference in the vision, goals and larger strategies. Else, we will have different parts of the organization running at different speeds…or worse, pulling in different directions altogether.
How does one align such leaders ?
• Involve them in second round of finalization of vision-goals-strategies (last 10-25% changes / inputs can come from them). Could be done by getting them together in one place or through a video-conference or distributed sessions with some Layer 2 leader or the CEO leading each session.
• Clear communication of KRAs and specific deliverables to this team
• Quarterly meeting to discuss company’s achievements and plan for next quarter
• Keep them engaged with a mentorship program in which Layer 2 leaders mentor next line of leaders, who do not report to them.
I am such a strong fan of this aspect of running a business that I am putting my neck out on the Strategy vs Execution focus and profer my formula for business success – 30pc strategy, 40pc execution, 30pc alignment of leadership team !! (for a bit of a double-click on Strategy vs Execution itself, pls refer my other article).