Leaders know it’s not all about strategy

Talk to anyone about leadership and you’re likely going to hear something about strategy. You’re also going to get some version of the distinction between tactics and strategy – another way to get to the strategy discussion.

But leadership is not all about strategy. As important as it is, strategy takes the back seat to execution.

Think about it this way, would you prefer a perfect strategy with a decent execution or a perfect execution on a decent strategy?

The challenge for most leaders is that strategy is something they participate in, and can control. They can create it. Execution is different in that it relies on others, outside of a leader’s control.

But isn’t this the core challenge in leadership? Learning to inspire, equip, encourage, mentor and challenge others to take action.

Equipping people for Execution

So how do you go about equipping your team for excel at execution? Is it a series of milestones you establish to make sure they can be held accountable? Or is there a trick that you can employ to make sure each person owns their own set of tasks?

Here are the first four dynamics that help get staff prepped for and ready to execute:

Assign Goals

Instead of assigning tasks and dictating every detail, invite your team to create their own task path to the objective you’re looking for. Define the goal and let them create the approach. You can always review and give feedback, which is the next one.

Give Feedback

When you let people create their own paths to the objective or goal you set, you give them the freedom to own the tasks they’ve created. But what if they’re pursuing a sub-optimal path?

Giving people feedback isn’t about giving them the “right” answer as much as it is helping them to increase the things they’re thinking about. And to do that, you need to expose them to that thinking.

The best way to do that?

Ask them questions.

Share Context

A lot of people make decisions that feel right to them. They choose paths that make sense with the information they know. But sometimes it’s the lack of what they know that impacts how they think.

So sharing more context with your team helps them know how to make better decisions in that context.

Limit Repetition

The fastest way to help your team disengage is to give them repetitive tasks over and over again. And if they disengage, guess what falls off first? That’s right, their execution. So to keep them engaged, you have to push them to try new things. Give them bigger challenges.

This isn’t the whole list, just the first half. But it’s the list of dynamics I focus on regularly to make sure my teams can execute well, regardless of the strategy we select.