The Curious Leader
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The Curious Leader

Three Management Keys to Understand Before Executing Your Strategic Plan

We’ve seen the stats about strategic planning; the numbers are getting worse.

For example, 68% of the business leaders polled in 2020 believe their organization is good at developing strategy, down from 80% in 2012.

Lack of faith in management’s ability to lead our companies to a safe port is often explained in terms of supply chain issues or other external factors, such as the pandemic.

However, I believe we would be doing ourselves a great disservice if we continued focusing on external factors to explain our poor performance.

Digging into our own backyard to unearth what might be amiss in the execution of our strategic plan is a much better business strategy.

Management Key #1: Who Are You Haunting?

In French, we have a saying, “Tell me who you’re haunting, and I’ll tell you who you are.” This expression means we tend to gravitate towards those who think and behave like us. It’s how we form tribes.

A tribe has a specific resonance to it, and anyone wanting to fit into the tribe must share similar beliefs with the tribe’s aggregate.

An organization is a tribe composed of individuals who mostly think and behave alike.

In that environment, anyone consistently expressing contrary opinions to the tribe, such as, “Hey, the strategic plan won’t work because we’re treating human capital like crap!” will most likely be shown the door and asked to never return.

Here’s something I’d like you to get: Contrary opinions might be excellent for your strategic plan because they could be pointing to your organization’s blind spots.

Solution: Hire a highly-trained accountability partner who has already done a lot of the work to emotionally understand, and is willing to help you strategically overcome your tribe’s blind spots.

Management Key #2: What Habits Are You Feeding?

Another survey showed that 61% of the business leaders polled believe their organization often struggles with bridging the gap between strategy formulation and its ongoing implementation.

I’m not surprised by that statistic, and here is why:

Individuals who think and behave alike tend to feed similar habits in each other, which often leads to a lack of general objectivity.

Take a street gang, for example. All members of the gang are expected to follow the gang’s rules about how to dress, what to say, what to do, and whom to pursue.

Keeping the street gang example in mind, members of your organization might struggle with designing and implementing a business strategy that works because they’re generally immersed in it, which means they can’t be objective about it.

Solution: Hire an external (objective) accountability partner who has a profoundly practical, emotionally intelligent process that will challenge the habits you feed to show you how to implement a sustainable business strategy.

Management Key #3: Bend It Like Beckham!

David Beckham is a high profile footballer known for scoring free kicks by curving the ball past a wall of defenders.

In another survey, 41% of business leaders’ respondents say their companies provide “sufficiently skilled personnel to implement high priority strategic initiatives.”

Let’s think about this for a moment. If you owned a sports team where 60% of your players said that you’ve hired less than sufficiently skilled players, what would you do differently?

Solution: Show how it’s done. Asking management to do something beyond what they already know requires them to embody something beyond what they already have. No one does it alone! A genuine accountability partner has walked in our shoes, and they know what’s needed for us to reach our strategic goals. Most importantly, they’re willing to show us over and over again how it’s done until we all get it.

Let me remind you:

  1. We gravitate towards the people who think and behave like us.
  2. Members of the tribe, aka organization, feed similar habits in each other.
  3. Since we tend to surround ourselves with people who think and behave like us, we need to hire a genuine accountability partner who will challenge our perspective and show us how to play a bigger game.

Who is your genuine accountability partner?

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