Most extraordinary executives would agree that business practices evolve over time, and our experiences turn into knowledge. My such experience has inspired this article, 10 exceptional strategies for extraordinary executives. As a coach, my goal is always to see my client succeed. I want to high-five them when they hit a home run or score a touchdown. I want them to have experiences that will lead them to achieve their goals: increased sales, better performance, healthy growth, stronger culture and ultimately a better business.
In reflecting on my 18 years as a professional resource in strategy, culture and leadership, I want to share 10 exceptional strategies executives can follow and implement to help survive the challenges of growing a sustainable organization:
- Have a good partner. It is extremely difficult for Executives to sustain impacting change on an organization without a good no. 2 by their side. I have witnessed C-Suite executives flying “leadership solo” and those with a good no. 2, and a complimenting partner most often increases effectiveness and assures victory. Lock up a good partner who thrives on being the best no. 2 they can be and is committed to both you and the organization’s success.
- Become aware: “Awareness” is one of the most important words in the English language. Every monumental change, personally and corporately, stems from a moment of awareness. We should set our course on a constant journey of discovery. There are some amazing leadership development assessments to help you accomplish this goal.
- Hire well: Faulty hires have a profound negative financial and directional impact on an organization. Be methodical, slow and purposeful when hiring your leadership team. The same due diligence applied to a business acquisition should be considered with an executive leader acquisition.
- Find leaders: Leaders are not trained, they are cultivated. Leadership is a deep intrinsic trait that can only be partially taught, but mostly mined. Too much time and money is expended trying to make leaders out of non-leaders. Make sure you invest in the right people.
- Focused execution: Most strategic initiatives fail not because they were not good ideas, but because they were not executed properly. From a study conducted by The Economist Intelligence Unit, they found that 75% of U.S. organizations were batting less than 500 on successfully implementing business transformation initiatives. Organizations reorganize too quickly when an initiative falls short instead of regrouping, adjusting their approach and re-executing well.
- Good communication. Organizations rarely communicate effectively and often enough. Corporate communication is more critical than leaders realize. In the world of sports, botched plays are typically a result of miscommunication. Teams win because they have an internal communication strategy. Organizations are no different – they need one as well. In the process of implementing employee engagement studies, in almost every case, this is one of the most challenged corporate culture areas. Good communication does not happen accidentally but from a measured, strategic approach.
- Marketing matters. Unfortunately, in most organizations marketing is a haphazard practice. It should be on the list of an organization’s critical strategic initiatives, but that lack of it impedes growth. Marketing defines an organization’s ideal customer and then establishes a multi-pronged strategy for connecting them to their products and services. Marketing is the epitome of delayed gratification. If you do it well and are patient, it will pay off in the end. Marketing is a marathon not a sprint.
- Develop executors. Organizational leaders need to surround themselves with “company-minded executors.” They are recognized by both their results and their character. These employees are the company’s greatest asset. Your best chance to win is to give them the ball as often as possible. When you recognize an executor, help them grow as fast as possible. They will be your A players, and they want to carry the ball. If they do not get enough opportunities, you may find retaining them to be difficult.
- People before profits. Profits are the means by which you take care of people. That is not to say that people are exempt from being sacrificed for the sake of profits. However, organizations that practice an unhealthy appetite for profits will erode their culture and eventually their profits. Unfortunately, many organizations come up short on their risk tolerance and make decisions that end up impacting morale and hurting the long-term bottom line.
- Teams win. Organizations do not win because they have good players; they win because they have good teams. It is imperative to build a corporate culture that feels like a team. Team synergy takes time, energy, and persistence but will pay real dividends. In the age where Millennials are quickly overtaking the workforce in huge numbers, investing in team-oriented culture is becoming a key factor for staying competitive and winning.
It is difficult to make a clear distinction on which is most important because the dynamics of every organization are so different and complicated depending on the leadership structure or lack thereof, company culture, size, industry, mission, ownership, family involvement, etc. Because of these factors, each client engagement is truly a customized approach to gain the most success for each organization.