“However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results,” Winston Churchill famously said. And, you don’t get results without execution. So, how do you ensure successful execution? With leadership.
Your organization’s endeavor to execute its strategy will have a very slim chance of succeeding without a high-level leader to champion the process. In this, the first of my six-part blog series on keys to successful strategy execution, I will discuss the keys to having a leadership champion who will enable your organization to achieve strategy execution success.
A High-Level Leadership Champion Is Absolutely Necessary
First, as I said earlier, the champion needs to be a high-level leader in your organization. It doesn’t necessarily have to be the president, CEO, or executive director, but it should be one of her direct reports such as the COO, CFO, or a senior vice president. The level at which the champion sits is important because it sends an immediate message to all stakeholders about how important the project is to the organization.
Second, the leadership champion of strategy execution has to continually demonstrate that he is the leadership champion of the strategy. That means he must talk about it often to both internal and external stakeholders. Your staff must understand that it is always part of the organization’s focus and external stakeholders such as shareholders, donors, or even regulators need to understand that you are consistently executing your strategy. It cannot be something that leadership mentions at the beginning of the year and at the end.
Third, your champion must hand pick the individual (project manager) who will be responsible for leading execution of the strategy on a day-to-day basis. They must have confidence that the individual will be effective and provide her with all of the support necessary (within reason) to execute. In addition, the champion must have regular check-ins with the project manager to ensure the strategy is on track and help if any obstacles are encountered.
The Champion Must Communicate and Be Accessible
Fourth, the project champion must communicate to the strategy execution team what is expected of them with respect to time commitment and level of effort. Being part of the team should be framed as an opportunity given by leadership to high achievers.
Finally, the strategy champion must be accessible to respond to questions about the strategy and address any issues that may arise. In essence, he must own strategy execution, be accountable for it, and do everything he can as an executive to ensure its success.
Look for more keys on strategy execution in the coming days on this blog: www.edisonstrategy.com/blog/.