alt text image of a tachometer pointed to execution

The Leadership Playbook: Execute Before Change

New leaders often believe that they need to immediately make change. Some believe that the faster they change things the better their results. Other leaders believe the more they change things the better. Sometimes change is necessary, and sometimes fast change is what’s needed. But more often, the reason the leader’s team isn’t producing the results of which they are capable is that they aren’t executing.

The Other 99%

Execution is difficult, time-consuming, political, and messy. Chances are, many (if not most) of the past initiatives were great ideas. It’s likely that those ideas, if well implemented, would have moved the organization forward towards its goals.

But somewhere along the way the train came off the tracks. The status quo won out. The team waited out their leader. The new shiny object grabbed someone’s attention (likely the leader), and one incomplete change initiative was replaced by the next.

There is no strategy, no opportunity, no initiative that can or will produce the results that are possible unless it is faithfully and religiously executed.

  • You adopted a new sales process. You announced it at the kickoff meeting to great applause and fanfare. But the salesforce went right back to doing what they’ve always done, and their sales managers went back to serving the organization instead of the sales force. Now, it’s business as usual.
  • You’ve chosen a new strategy. Instead of pursuing the low price, transactional space in your market, you’ve launched a suite of solutions designed to help you move to the smaller, more profitable segment of your market. But the time, money, resources, and compensation plan weren’t changed. Your sales and marketing teams still have the goals and the structure to support the old strategy. There is no change.

Execution or Change

Before you decide what you need to change to move your organization into the future you imagine for it, you need to first spend time ensuring that the real need isn’t simply greater execution on what has already been put in place. It’s likely that the last leaders didn’t produce the results they could have because of execution, not their strategy. Execution is likely change.

There is nothing wrong with making your greatest initiative execution on what is already in place. Your job as a leader is to make the changes necessary, not to make changes for change’s sake. You aren’t measured on the change you make, you are measured on the results you produce and the leaders you build.


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