Execution Success:  The critical role of leaders

The capabilities and behaviors leaders must exhibit to ensure successful execution of strategy is at the heart of performance.

“When leaders create the right conditions for execution and guide people through the journey, it demonstrates their authentic commitment and sincerity.” (Speculand, 2017)

Too often leaders do not understand and/or appreciate the important role they play to ensure strategy execution occurs within day-to-day operations. Leaders regularly underestimate the strategy execution challenge while investing most of their energy to maintain short-term financial stability while providing the resources required to meet the needs of customers and other stakeholders.  Strategy professionals have an important role to play here by helping leaders shift their focus from “managing” the organization to “balancing” short term execution with the longer-term needs of the organization.

While a common set of execution capabilities and behaviors are not yet sufficiently codified, the following leadership and management capabilities and behaviors are essential for implementing strategy:

Each of these capabilities are maximized by informed leadership that can accurately identify the scope and dimensions of execution requirements of the strategic operating plan.  This is no small challenge and requires a significant investment of time and effort.

“A leader’s diary manifests their purpose.  If the leader is not changing his/her calendar and day to day activities, how can he/she expect others to change.” (Porter, 2018)

Example:  “Best Buy is an ideal example of a company that completely reinvented itself and found the secrets to successful strategy execution. In 2012, Best Buy had plummeting profits, sales, and stock prices. It had lost relevance and was failing to compete with Amazon. In a last-ditch effort to survive, the company hired Hubert Joly as its CEO. Joly proved to be a visionary leader, most notably for launching Best Buy’s Renew Blue strategy. The Renew Blue strategy planning, and execution has been an unheralded success.  Best Buy had five consecutive years of comparable sales growth, increased its non-GAAP operating income rate, achieved $1.9 billion in cost savings and efficiencies, improved profitability, and shareholder return, increased its Net Promoter Score, and hit record-low employee turnover rates.”  (Weaver, 2019)



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LBL Strategies Team