STRATEGIC EXECUTION

The Leadership Team Maturity Model


“Without strategy, execution is aimless. Without execution, strategy is useless.”

―MORRIS CHANG

Success comes down to execution, the last essential piece of the puzzle in a leadership team's journey of creating a market-leading business model. One of the benefits of my diverse background in working with so many companies is seeing the spread out there of the pace and level of execution of organizations. Take a similar-sized project across many different organizations, and you'll get a normal distribution of how long and the resources it takes to complete. A leadership team's ability to create and nurture a culture of execution excellence determines the organization's productivity. High-performing leadership teams instill a pressing sense of urgency, ensure plans create a clear and efficient blueprint of coordinated impact, effectively mobilize talent and resources, are vigilant in minimizing bureaucracy that can choke progress, manage progress through strong governance, are masterful at change, and are relentless in their pursuit of meaningful impact.

High-performing teams ensure their strategies are executed efficiently and effectively by the organization. They focus on nurturing and elevating the following competencies within themselves and others: 

  1. Driving Results & Impact - Effective leaders relentlessly drive impactful results by motivating, focusing, and removing obstacles while fostering a culture of solution-oriented accountability.
  1. Minimizing Bureaucracy - High-performing teams combat the stifling effects of bureaucracy, ensuring organizational processes and governance don't hinder execution.

  1. Project Planning - These teams excel in translating strategic decisions into actionable plans, creating blueprints for success through excellence in project planning.
  1. Resource Planning & Managing - These leaders excel in strategically distributing and optimizing organizational resources, including human, financial, and technological assets, to align with and effectively achieve the company's goals and objectives.
  1. Project Governance - Exceptional leaders demonstrate their prowess in project governance by meticulously guiding and overseeing projects, ensuring they align with strategic objectives while efficiently managing risks and resources.
  1. Change Management - High-performing leadership teams excel in orchestrating and facilitating change across the organization, skillfully balancing the breadth and pace of evolution with the company's capacity for adaptation and growth.

1. DRIVING RESULTS & IMPACT


Great leaders relentlessly pursue meaningful impact and tangible results. They drive execution with a unique blend of unwavering motivation, sharp focus, and robust accountability, always ready to dismantle any barriers that might impede progress. These leaders abstract and deconstruct the various levels and segments of work necessary to bring a strategy to life. These leaders possess an overarching vision, allowing them to abstract and deconstruct the multiple levels and segments of work required to bring a strategy to life. They have a keen sense of the pace at which their teams and individuals operate and are proactive in addressing any discrepancies between expected and actual performance. By identifying and eliminating the obstacles that cloud the focus required for critical tasks and projects, they ensure the path to execution is clear and unhindered.

Moreover, great leaders inspire their teams through a potent mix of coaching, regular check-ins, celebrating victories, and offering support during challenging times. They cultivate an environment where solutions are valued over problems, instilling an organizational culture of initiative and problem-solving. This cultural shift not only fosters resilience but also empowers individuals to take ownership of their work, contributing to the team's collective success. The hallmark of such leaders is their ability to consistently drive positive outcomes, even when faced with formidable challenges and obstacles, setting them apart as true beacons of leadership.


2. MINIMIZING BUREAUCRACY


Bureaucracy is the enemy of execution. With its web of red tape and hierarchical hurdles, bureaucracy is a formidable foe to efficient execution within many organizations. Bureaucracy can be helpful in managing risk and allocating resources effectively, yet it often mutates into an overbearing presence that stifles progress and innovation. It becomes a labyrinth where motivated individuals lose their way, bogged down by endless loops of approvals, status updates, meetings that bear no fruit, and the perpetual pursuit of sign-offs. The resultant environment is one where employees, no matter how dedicated, begin to feel a sense of futility as their time and efforts are consumed by the bureaucratic machine, leading to demoralization and a creeping apathy toward progress.

Good leadership teams tackle bureaucracy head-on, ensuring it doesn't derail their mission to achieve meaningful outcomes. At a strategic level, they tackle bureaucracy through sound organization design coupled with a lean approach to process and governance. Tactically, they attack bureaucracy by vigilantly tackling and dismantling roadblocks and red tape, ensuring their teams have a clear runway for progress. By minimizing the bureaucratic noise, they enhance productivity and foster a culture where progress can flourish.


3. PLANNING PROJECTS


High-performing leadership teams ensure their strategic decisions translate into a clear path to results and impact through strong project planning. They understand that project plans are the architectural blueprints for the organization to become a market leader. They foster organizational excellence in crafting and executing robust project plans, recognizing the pivotal role planning plays in efficient and effective execution.

High-performing teams take the art of crafting effective plans to the next level. They make sure to define ambitious yet achievable project objectives that are tightly aligned with the strategic objectives and mission of the company. They develop milestones, work streams, and output that optimize the constraints of time and resources to maximize impact and minimize risk. Their plans are adaptable and flexible in the face of ever-changing dynamics.

They are collaborative and communicative in developing plans to leverage the best ideas, drive alignment, and set expectations. They actively engage stakeholders throughout developing project plans, providing regular updates, and seeking valuable feedback to enhance project outcomes. They spend the necessary time and energy to problem-solve project plans that set up and empower teams to deliver the impact and results they need to propel the business forward expeditiously.


4. RESOURCE PLANNING & ALLOCATION 


Strong leadership teams maximize the value and impact generated from their scarce human and financial capital. They do this by creating a business model that, over time, generates more cash flow and profits, which they continuously and strategically feedback into the business model to become a market leader. To do this effectively, high-performing teams excel at resource planning and allocation.

A leadership team plays a pivotal role in the success and growth of any organization, and one of its core responsibilities is effective resource allocation. Resource allocation refers to the strategic distribution of an organization's assets, including financial, human, and technological resources, to achieve its objectives and goals. Strategically, it comes down to a leadership team that deeply understands the value creation of the different elements of their business model, invests in them appropriately, and is strong at crafting and managing their portfolio of strategic initiatives that create a path to market leadership. Tactically, it comes down to ensuring the budgeting processes properly allocate human and financial capital commensurate with the value created by certain functions, initiatives, and projects. Their budgeting processes maximize productivity and minimize wastage, making the organization more cost-efficient.


5. PROJECT GOVERNANCE


Project governance encompasses the frameworks and processes for guiding and overseeing projects. Much of a leader's time is devoted to project governance, spinning up new projects, planning and launching them, and steering them through their lifecycle while making impactful decisions. Effective governance involves establishing clear objectives, managing risks, allocating resources efficiently, and ensuring projects align with the organization's strategic goals. This process involves structured decision-making and requires leaders to be adept at problem-solving and making informed decisions based on changing circumstances.

High-performing leaders excel in these areas, demonstrating mastery in leading the problem-solving and decision-making at the heart of solid governance. They skillfully navigate the dimensions of cost, quality, impact, and time, which are essential for keeping projects on track. Proficiency in project governance allows leaders to adjust project courses as needed, ensuring transparency, accountability, and alignment with business strategies. This proficiency is not just about steering projects to completion but also about maximizing return on investment and building trust among stakeholders. In essence, the ability to effectively manage project governance is a hallmark of successful leadership, crucial for organizational efficiency, stakeholder confidence, and the successful delivery of projects that have a lasting impact.


6. CHANGE MANAGEMENT


Evolving a business model necessitates a ton of change, yet change management is often the Achilles heel of leadership teams. The ability of a leadership team to accelerate the pace of positive change is paramount in their journey to becoming a high-performing leadership team. High-performing leadership teams view change across the organization as a portfolio, managing and problem solving the scope, breadth, and pace of change across the organization. Change is a muscle that needs to be developed across the organization, and high-performing teams explicitly manage the portfolio of change while also developing the ability of the organization to absorb more positive change throughout its growth journey.

The beauty of change management is that it isn't a mystery; it just takes adopting best practices and discipline. When changing and optimizing processes, the best approach is to document the change in standard operating procedures, train people, ensure they adhere to the change, measure the improvement, and rinse and repeat. With changes that necessitate significant behavioral change, the best practice is to utilize the change management model to drive the systemic behavioral change necessary for improvement. 


Change Management Model

High-performing teams take the time and energy to manage change correctly by developing and communicating the case for change, creating and celebrating role models through pilots, effectively training the broader group, and reinforcing the change through metrics, incentives, and continuous training.


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