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Strategy execution capability – How good is my Leadership Pool?

Leadership skills for execution:


What is stopping my Leaders from being “Execution” focused?

Is my Leadership Succession Pool competent and adaptive to business dynamics?

Why aren’t my Leaders and Managers seeing what I am seeing so obviously?

Why am I making all the decisions? Where are the other decision makers?

Why aren’t my Leaders showing accountability for the Top-Line and Bottom-Line Goals?

Why are my Leaders not delegating the Operational Tasks and work strategically with me?

Why aren’t there enough role models for my employees?

Why aren’t my Leaders taking the Lead to Innovate for Customer Success?

If you are a Business Leader, in the constant pursuit to Creating Leaders for tomorrow, there surely are more questions aren’t they? Business Leaders normally find their Leadership pools falling short on essential competencies which can make great differences to the Execution of Business Strategy and outcomes.

Irrespective of the size of the Organization, Start-up or Medium or Large Enterprise, A Strong and Dynamic Pool must should be a reflection of these 7 Essential Leadership Competencies which deployed in the right concoction can be catalysts for effective Business Execution.

1. Intrapreneurship:

The difference between Businesses which are there to survive and grow incrementally and the Businesses which are looking to scale, out compete and grow radically is the presence of Intrapreneurs within the Organization.

Intrapreneurs, are personified by Innovation, who turn risks to opportunities for new ideas or new portfolio which can result in increase in Market share or Create New Markets, which can ultimately impact the Bottom Line Profits of the Business.

Look for Intrapreneurship as a Competency when hiring new Leaders, and for existing Leaders inspire, mentor and develop them to scale up as Intrapreneurs.

2. Strategic Alignment & Goal Orientation:

We know of Strategies that fail to be executed effectively, simply because the Leaders and Managers of the Organizations were not in “Alignment” to the Strategic Plan.  Invest time to mentor and Align the Leadership Pool to the Organization’s Vision, Mission and Values.

Reinforce the definitions…

Vision: A timeless Picture of the Future.

Mission: Reason or Purpose for Existence of the Organization

Values: Guidelines on “How” to pursue the Vision and Mission.

Once a buy-in for the Strategy has been attained from the Leaders, it’s important that they align the Organization goals. The Organizational Goals of an Organization are created in such a way that they align with the Overall Strategy of Organization (Vision, Mission and Values). Also termed as Annual Goals, These Goals are revised every year to ensure that the Organization stays on course to achieve its overall Mission.

To achieve the Overall Strategy of the Organization, The Yearly Organizational Goals are to be simplified and drilled down to Business Unit Specific Goals, Team Specific Goals, and Manager Specific Goals up to the Individual Goals of Every Employee in the Organization. The SMART Goal Setting framework can be used for effectiveness and simplicity.

A couple of examples of SMART goals at different levels:

Achieve a 90% customer satisfaction rating for the Product X by the end of the year.

Every day I will visit five new businesses within ABC Region with the objective of signing on 10 more XYZ accounts by March 31st 2017.

At every level of Leadership, it’s the Leaders’ role to drill down their Goals to the stakeholders collaborating with them.

For Example:

If the Annual Organization Goal for the Overall Sales is 50 Million USD and if we have 5 Products or Services in the Portfolio; Every Product or Service shall have an Annual Sales Goal (e.g. 5 Million, 8 Million, 10 Million…) which shall add up to 50 Million.

Similarly, Every Product or Service lead by a Business Unit Head shall have Business Unit Sales Goals (e.g. 5 Million, 8 Million, 10 Million) which shall be distributed across its Teams in the form of Annual Sales Target (1 Million, 3 Million, 5 Million) These are the Goals pursued by Every Team’s Manager.

As a Team Manager, the Annual Sales Target (1 Million, 3 Million, 5 Million) shall be further simplified as SMART monthly or Quarterly Targets (e.g. An Annual Target of 2 Million can be distributed Quarterly as Q1: 0.25 Million, Q2: 0.75 Million; Q3:0.6 Million; Q4: 0.4 Million) among the Team Members (e.g. 0.2 Million, 0.4 Million, 0.5 Million…), so that every Individual of the Organization makes a difference in the Achievement of Overall Goal of the Organization.

3. Ownership & Accountability

“Success doesn’t mean the absence of failures; it means the attainment of ultimate objectives. It means winning the war, not every battle.” – Edwin C. Bliss

It’s important to realise that as a Leaders, You, Your Organization, Your Teams and Your employees across levels will go through days which are not completely successful in terms of numbers and results.

Ownership of Success and Failure defines the Leadership mettle, and Leaders must:

  • Own both the Successful and the not successful days
  • Learn from the not so successful Events – Record them as Lessons Learnt
  • Repeat the Successful Events – Record them as Best Practices for the future
  • Emphasize to the stakeholders on the Journey towards your Vision and Goals
  • Emphasize on the Process towards Eventual Objective: Win The War, Not Daily Battles.

The lack of Accountability in the Leadership pool can be contagious issue as it can get trickled to the employees in no time. Accountability is a trait to be lived and breathed for Self and Team consistently in all Business Situations.

Leaders need to:

Hold themselves and Others Accountable for

  • Measurable High Quality, Timely and Cost Effective Results

Determine Objectives, Set Priorities and Delegate Work

  • Delegation will determine their Growth in the Leadership Path
  • It will also pave way for the growth of their Teams in their Career Paths

Accept Responsibility for Mistakes

  • Great Leaders accept responsibilities for mistakes and Accentuate on the Positives

With Accountability comes the responsibility to be a Role Model as Teams and employees learn everything from their Leaders. Every moment that a Leader is at work, they should strive towards being a Positive Role Model – Or simply, Walk the Talk. Leaders must be accountable to:

  • Lead by Example through their Thoughts, Actions and Words.
  • Motivate and inspire People to be Leaders for the future
  • Coach people for Greater Success and Higher Performance

Being a Leader is in fact – Living as a Leader both at Work and in Life. Work on the Finer Aspects Every Day. Read a Lot, Network with Industry peers, Gain Insights… Transform to the Best “You”.

4. Execution Excellence: Driving Results & High Performance

Importance of Results – Correlation to Top line and Bottom Line

Leaders at all levels must focus on the attainment of outcomes with efficiency. Every Leader’s outcomes has an impact on the Top Line and Bottom Line when correlated in the Bigger Picture. To correlate Excellence across operational levels to the Execution Excellence of the Organization, as Leaders you need to:

  • Translate your Goals to the Individual Goals of your Employees
  • There should be a Clear Mapping of the Integrated Deliverables and Performance of Your Employees to Your Deliverables and Performance as a Leader, which will result in the Eventual Sustainable Success of Your Organization.

Driving Performance with data driven parameters

It is important to Drive Results and Higher Performance by Defining SMART Data driven parameterised KPIs for Employees across roles. The Data Driven Parameters should be realistic, quantifiable and Improvable over a period of time. The Parameters (e.g. Quality, Productivity, Agility etc.) should be understandable and relevant to the Roles of your Team Members.

Targeting Consistency and Efficiency

There will be days when you and your employees together overachieve on your Goals: Celebrate those days but do not expect to replicate it often. What is more important is to maintain focus on being efficient and consistent in terms of the data driven parameters, and adhering to the process you and your employees have defined.

Pursue Continuous Improvement

As a Best Practice, Set New Benchmarks every 6 Months by bringing in at least 5% improvement in Every Data Driven SMART Parameter being pursued.

Driving Success based on Key Success Factors

The Success Factors for your Organization that exist today, need to be constantly reviewed and dynamically revised by Leaders. To keep your Success Factors relevant, You need to proactively:

  • Develop Business Acumen through Industry Awareness and being Information Savvy
  • Learn more about your Industry: Explore the success Factors of competitors
  • Learn more about the success Factors of other Industries

5. Decision Making

Business Leaders often find themselves in situations where they are making decisions which they should not be making. The lack of “Decision Making” abilities in the Leadership Pool makes Leaders at the Executive level to take decisions both at Strategic and Operational level. It is a wrong precedent, which ultimately results in Executives making less strategic and more of Operational decisions which could be delegated to the next in line Leadership Pool by empowering them with the authority, control and influence to make and own decisions.

People Orientation & People Development

The Greatest Asset to any Organization is its People.  People Innovate Products… People Create and Improvise Processes… People Promote Your Brand.

As Leaders, Invest your Time and Attention to facilitate and implement the Best Working Atmosphere at your Workplace. There are multiple approaches for you to be People Oriented:

  • Show that you Care… Value the Person for what he or she is good at.
  • Coach them to be better People and Professionals
  • Respect each other
  • Provide opportunities to grow and learn: Training, Challenges, Responsibilities
  • Provide and Accept Periodic Formal or Informal Feedback for you to become better
  • Celebrate the Little Successes
  • Appraise in the presence of all

People Development

During the entire Journey of the Association of the Employee with your Organization, it is the Leader’s responsibility to provide the Best Career Enabling Workplace to the Person. Create along with the Employee a Career Development Plan, review it in the one on ones

Facilitating Transition for Career and Personal Growth: As Leaders it is important to acknowledge and facilitate the Career and Personal Growth of our People. It might be even to let go of a High Performer to a different Level of Responsibility within the Organization, to Create a New Leader for the Organization in Future.

Importance of Feedback – One on Ones:  Provide Consistent Periodic Feedback, Accentuate the Positive. Remember this Every time you give a feedback:

“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel”

Leaders must strive to improve Employee Engagement at the Workplace by demonstrating genuine people focus. Engaged Employees lead to…

  • higher service, quality, and productivity, which leads to…
  • higher customer satisfaction, which leads to…
  • increased sales (repeat business and referrals), which leads to…
  • higher levels of profit, which leads to…
  • higher shareholder returns (i.e., stock price)

7. Focus on Customer Delight

Organizations have always been happy with Satisfying Customers by just meeting their expectations. The problem with this outlook, is that by setting an average benchmark of Customer Success, there are higher chances of attaining lower benchmarks of Success.

Leaders can influence this transition from Customer Satisfaction to Customer Delight.

How do you Institute Customer Delight as a Culture among your Employees?

“A person who is nice to you, but rude to the waiter, is not a nice person.”

You cannot delight an External Customer unless your Internal Customers are delighted. These are your Internal Stakeholders who define the Success of Your Organization: Your Peers, Your Team and Your Managers. Coach Leaders on Social and Emotional Intelligence as they have a huge role in Instituting Delight for Internal and External Stakeholders.

Understanding the Customer – Knowledge of Customer, Empathy and WOW Factors

  • Inspire Employees to consistently apply WOW Factors in their daily interactions internally and externally with Stakeholders.
  • Empathy in interactions can go a long way in making Stakeholders feel valued and recognized for what they want.
  • Leaders must build the culture and process to collate the Voice of Customer, as this knowledge can help in creating better and more aligned products and services based on the Customer and Market Needs.

As Business Leaders of Organization, You are already in positions of influence where you can be Dream Merchants for Leaders of the future.

Inspire and Create Wonderful Leaders!

Mahesh Sheshadri

Mahesh Sheshadri

Mahesh Sheshadri is an accomplished Business Leader and Strategist with over 15 years of Global Leadership experience from diverse Industry Functions (Strategy, Business Development, Information Technology, Human Resource, Operations, PMO), Domains (Avionic, Desktop Publishing, Automotive, Healthcare, Management Consulting, Digital Marketing, Advertising) and Cultures (US, Europe, APAC, MEA). Enriched with Education in Computer Science Engineering from RVCE, Bangalore and Executive Business Management Program from IIM Calcutta; and Certifications from the Dale Carnegie Institute, Carlton Advanced Management Institute and Software Engineering Institute. He is currently associated with Metis as a Strategic Advisor, Performance Coach and Execution Specialist. He was last associated with Langoor Digital, as the Head of People and Vice President – Program Management Office. His previous experience in Delivery & Leadership roles have been with Organizations like DRDO, Quark, Robert Bosch, Misys PLC. and Metis in the areas of Global Corporate Management, Strategic Execution, Marketing, Business Development, Software Development, Project Management, Quality Management, Resource Management, PMO, Talent Management and Operations. Mahesh Sheshadri has a proven track record of achieving significant improvements in Revenue, Profitability, Productivity, Quality, Agility, Innovation and Customer Success while driving sustained Growth, Operational excellence, continuous Learning culture, Employee Engagement and Customer experience. His specialties include Business Strategy Planning and Execution, Management by Metrics, Lean Analytics for Startups and Enterprises, Stage Gate Process Management (PRINCE2), Project/Portfolio Management (PMI, Agile), Quality Management (CMMi), Risk Management, Innovation & Knowledge Management, Employee Engagement Practices (Talent Acquisition, PMS, R&R, C&B, L&D, Branding, People Policies), Customer Engagement Practices, Digital Marketing, Coaching for High Performance, Mentoring, Leadership Development Facilitation, Competency Development (Assessment and Development Center).
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