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Plan for your best year - tips and strategies to make the most of your year.
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(posted: January 15th, 2013)
Strategy is about making choices.
For leaders, strategy is about deciding not only what to do, but also what not to do. Leadership strategy includes making choices about who to involve, how to listen, which ideas to consider and how to make tough decisions, as well as knowing what's most important and why.
I've created a list of strategies for C-level executives, managers, entrepreneurs, owners or anyone else responsible for creating success in 2013.
Vision identifies a direction, but also serves to inspire, especially in tough times.
Once you've identified your vision, how do you use it as a leadership tool?
To be powerful, your vision needs to be described in terms of values and mission, not money and numbers. People make the emotional connection with your mission, not the money - It's true!
Leaders, this may be your secret weapon. Those who can communicate on many levels will see dramatic differences in engagement, innovation and productivity.
To be a great communicator:
A favorite tool of mine for enhancing communication is the DiSC system. It helps identify different personality traits and work styles so that you can tailor your communications to your employees, and develop your leadership style to encourage your people to be their best.
This is another of those leadership techniques that is as much art as science, and requires constant attention, yet it is critical to producing innovative, functional teams.
Workplace environments that are inspiring and safe do not just happen. We know that we have to manage productivity, but as leaders, we also must manage the culture of the workplace in order to achieve a high-performance, values-based organization.
Some strategies for culture management:
Yes - that scary word discipline. For many that word can sound restricting. Actually it is the opposite - discipline sets you free. This is critical to success, yet frequently overlooked.
Research from the Harvard Business School shows that 90% of strategies fail due to poor execution. Execution is the greatest challenge for most business leaders.
It's a common pattern: an organization's leadership or executive team holes up for one or two days of strategic planning at the start of the year, resulting in a set of intentions or priorities for growth in the coming year. The new strategies and initiatives are top-of-mind immediately following this event, and the commitment is high.
But time goes by, day-to-day issues demand attention, and that focus and commitment starts to wane. Both leaders and employees start to forget those strategic intentions that were so carefully crafted earlier in the year.
At KLR Consulting I see this pattern all too often with clients. In fact, about five years ago, we re-engineered our approach to focus as much on driving execution as on developing strategy. Other business thought-leaders are seeing the same pattern:
Tom Peters writes that "execution is the missing 99%" for business success.
Jim Collins says, "Building a great company requires 1% vision and 99% alignment."
Strategic planning should be an ongoing process - not an annual event.
Effective companies update their strategic plan every 90 days to ensure relevance with the competitive environment, and to align all their people to the strategic priorities. At the same time, they should also include a plan for disciplined execution of the agreed-upon priorities.
Some steps to take to develop disciplined execution in your organization:
When you embrace discipline in your processes you will greatly enhance your ability to effectively set and execute your strategy. Now - and in the future.
You may be wondering, "How is a quiz a leadership strategy?"
The quiz here is partly for fun, but my point is that you need to be asking questions about your organization, your leaders and staff, and your priorities.
Answer the questions honestly, and then take steps to fix it when the answers are unsatisfactory.
Score each of the following statements on a scale of 1-10:
(where 10 = "We are amazing at this" and 1 = "We are TERRIBLE at this; this does not apply to us at all.")
Add up your total points. A score of 35 is about equal to a "C", or "average". If you score a combined total of less than 40, you definitely need to take some action now! Great leaders don't sit still, and don't accept the status quo. Mediocrity is not in their vocabulary. They are always questioning and moving forward.
Please share your tips for success and let's work together to make 2013 the best year ever!