The top challenge faced by CEOs the world over is to achieve excellence in execution according to a survey report by The Conference Board. The global survey of chief executives indicates that execution is taking precedence over profit and top line growth as the most important concern of CEOs worldwide. The biggest concern of every organisation is to develop leadership talent that rapidly enhance performance standards and productivity of employees leading
Refine strategy on the go to attain goals
In the wake of growing uncertainty in the business environment pragmatic leadership or execution excellence is the need of the hour. Simply crafting eloquent vision statements will serve no purpose unless they are matched with concrete action plans. An organisation requires leaders who excel in execution. The focus of CEOs around the world shifted from profit making and top line growth to execution because it is only right action taken at the right time that takes the businesses to the next level.
Over the years a cult of heroic leadership has evolved and till recently, organisations had no choice but depend solely on charismatic leaders to influence the employees and also the management through sheer gift of the gab. The magical words like mission, vision and core values made their way into the business lexicon. However, to weather current business turmoil resulting from sweeping economic changes, organisations are going back to their old ways of pragmatic leadership.
Management researcher and author of the well-acclaimed book, Good to Great, Jim Collins writes that very few companies succeed in making the leap from mediocrity to truly superior performance. In his research he found only 11 companies making the transformation from good to great. More than the inspiring personalities of their leaders it was the inspiring standards set forth by them that resulted in the success of these 11 companies. True pragmatists whose priority was always to choose what was best for their companies in the long run led these companies.
“Without execution, the breakthrough thinking breaks down, learning adds no value, people don’t meet their stretch goals and the revolution stops dead in its tracks” writes Larry Bossidy, the former chairman and CEO of Honeywell in his book, Execution: The
Discipline of Getting Things Done. Execution however does not simply imply operations management. It means a more pragmatic approach to problems and uncertainties. It is an intellectual process that helps to choose the best course of action in turbulent times. It is all pervading and includes the strategy, people and other resources. It is all about hard-nosed thinking that focuses on problems and quick generation of new ideas that help solve the problems.
Vision is no doubt vital for an organisation. Execution is indispensable to translate vision into concrete steps for action. Here are some insights into what senior managers can do to achieve execution excellence:
Embrace reality: Leaders should acknowledge facts of reality and continuously refine their path to goal achievement. They should be able to take bold initiatives taking into account ground realities in order to realise their coveted vision of excellence. These initiatives may take the form of abandoning historic core businesses, aggressive investing or radical down sizing. Excellence in execution is all about taking the most practical route to success.
An effective top team: The importance of selecting the right executive team cannot be undermined. When the right people occupy the right positions motivational problems automatically disappear. Self-motivated teams excel at interpreting and implementing the organisation’s vision.
Open vertical communication: This helps employees to bring facts to the top management’s notice. The senior mangers will be in a better position to grapple with reality, steer clear of pitfalls and make a steady progress to attain excellence.
Integration of processes: The strategy should be effectively integrated with human resources and also operations. Choosing the right people and the right financial and production resources all form an integral part of effective execution. Execution is an intellectual challenge that makes every thing else fall in place.
As noted English poet William Blake aptly pointed out, “the only thing more powerful than a great idea is a great idea powerfully executed”.
N. PURNIMA SRIKRISHNA
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