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Getting it Done:
What Great Leaders and Managers Do

By Holly G. Green

There are many books about strategy and in recent years there have even been best sellers about execution. After all, CEOs globally are incredibly concerned about being able to execute within their organization. In tough times, it becomes even more critical to get the right things done within your organization. Leaders and managers today have to not only determine which race to run (strategy), they must also figure out how to run the chosen race faster, better, and stronger than anyone else (operational planning and implementation). Both are necessary to stay in business and succeed.

To keep up today, a leader and manager has to do well at the following:

Get back to basics when everything around you diverts you into complexity

  • Make strategic planning a way of life in your organization.

  • Use a strategic planning framework to drive what you do and where you focus your energies.

  • Embed ongoing strategic planning in your processes. Constantly check for internal and external forces that may impact where you are going, what you need to do and how you need to do it.

  • Organize your day around achieving your destination (the definition of what it looks like when you get to where you are going) as well as informing, inspiring and engaging others in getting there.

Communicate constantly about your strategic planning framework

  • Inform employees of where you are going, where you are today and keep them updated.

  • Set clear expectations of what excellence looks like.

  • Expose the why behind your decisions.

  • Establish individual goals linked to the company's strategic planning framework.

  • Inspire employees by presenting a compelling picture of what the future looks like.

  • Engage employees continuously by asking about progress and highlighting accomplishments.

Build a high performing culture that supports your strategies & brings them to life. Recent studies indicate 78% of CEO's globally believe execution is one of their greatest weaknesses. Start at the beginning with answering the question of why you exist all the way to operational planning and execution.  Getting done what you say is critical for success.

  • Consider what and how you will get to your destination points and communicate both constantly.

  • Measure what matters and what employees can relate to in their jobs every day.

  • Encourage ownership behaviors in employees.

  • Remain vigilant about reviewing external and internal forces that may impact your strategies.

  • Give people what they need to be successful. Set yourself and everyone in the organization up for success

  • Review organization processes and systems to be sure they are aligned with where you say you are going

Provide continuous feedback.

  • Consider values and results.

  • Build trust through seeking to understand others.

  • Link to rewards and recognition.

  • Deal with problem performers.

Constantly learn and unlearn. This is one of the more difficult concepts for successful adults to grasp and act on. We get stuck pretty quickly and the more successful we are, the more we work to prove ourselves right constantly. After all, our previous behaviors served us well and got us to where we are today. The problem is, everything else is changing and your thought bubbles (assumptions, deeply held beliefs, biases, etc.) need to change as well. There are almost no jobs left that will remain the same over time and the demands of leaders and managers are continuing to evolve. The really great ones are constantly learning and developing themselves and they have the following characteristics in common. They:

Like to master things: They are motivated and driven to constantly get better, knowing full well that they will not, and should not, be perfect.

Are observant and flexible: They can consider multiple perspectives to create general guidelines that help them make sense of what is around them

Focus on problem solving: They consider current issues from the perspective of making things better versus blaming or worrying; their thinking is characterized by a balance of the ability to visualize what might or could be, and an effective day to day approach to get the right things done; they can distill complexity

Are self aware: They are constantly working to become even more aware of their own intentions as well as their impact on others; they admit mistakes and learn from them

Are specific, direct and candid with others: They expose any agenda they have and use good listening skills to really hear what others have to say rather than simply planning their next response

Have a broad range of interests: They are genuinely curious about others; they are able to make comparisons easily while seeing and appreciating the complexity in the world

Think strategically: They are able to see, understand and appreciate the current state as well as see possibilities. When dealing with today's issues, they operate from a broad, long term perspective rather than taking a narrow view or focusing only on short term implications; they are able to gather information and make decisions in a timely manner.

Are action oriented: They get things done, making timely decisions

Great leaders and managers know that there is much more to being successful today than just saying the right things. They do the right things, constantly acting as role models for others.

Read other articles and learn more about Holly G. Green.

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