How Successful Executives Demonstrate a Strategic Perspective

An important challenge any successful executive needs to master is the transition from an operational project focus to a strategic focus. That’s not to say that projects aren’t important (they are.) Executives will contribute to identifying and prioritizing key projects, but leading projects is the task of operational positions.

Here’s how mature executives demonstrate a strategic perspective:

  • Exhibiting a very good sense of how the business operates including how value is created, the economic drivers of success, and what costs are most important to monitor and control.
  • Showing longer-term thinking and not narrowly focused on the short-term.
  • Having a functional or divisional strategy that clearly connects to the overall business strategy and goals.
  • Being focused on company needs, policies and priorities, not just his or her own function or division.
  • Clearly reflecting the values of the company in his or her behaviors, decisions, and actions.

Two helpful resources to make this transition to a strategic perspective are a role model and an advisor – both of whom have successfully done it before.

Are you demonstrating a strategic perspective?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Strategy and Growing Your Business

When I see a company year-after-year forecast sizable increases in revenues and profits and regularly miss the forecast I am reminded of Albert Einstein’s admonition about insanity: Doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result.

To achieve growth, you need to think differently about your business and do it on a continual basis.

For the past few Mondays I have written about strategic thinking because it is a skill that is required to be an effective executive. And through my experience coaching executives and leaders, I know it is a skill that can be acquired. But like any skill, it needs practice and reinforcement.

By the way, don’t confuse strategic thinking with strategic planning. You may plan once a year, but strategic thinking needs to be happening regularly throughout the year.

Can your strategic thinking be sharpened? How about the strategic thinking skills of your executives? Do you have a regular process to identify strategic insights?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Are You Discovering Enough Strategic Insights?

Nearly every company has experienced a period of prolonged financial difficulty. Growth does not occur in a straight line, but rather in a series of growth curves similar to product lifecycle curves where growth accelerates, then slows and levels off.

The challenge is to anticipate the slow-down and get onto a new growth curve before the plateau. Once on a plateau, it is difficult to see a new growth curve. Better to anticipate it first.

But what causes a growth curve to slow in the first place? The vast majority of growth plateaus or stall points are caused not by economic downturns, but rather by poor strategic choices the most prevalent of which is continuing to ride one strategy as if it will last a long time, and getting solely focused on day-to-day operations. When that happens you get blind-sided by market disruptions caused by market or technical innovations or entirely new business models.

It is the responsibility of leaders and executives to take the lead in thinking strategically about the business. The best companies implement an ongoing strategic process to continually surface strategic insights on a regular basis. It’s not a once-a-year event, but rather a disciplined and regular focus. Monthly is good. Amazon does it weekly.

That is the way to spot early-on impending growth slow-downs, plateaus, and stall-points.

What is your process for continually surfacing strategic insights? Are you able to make adjustments to business strategy, not just operational decisions? How good are your strategic thinking skills, and are you continually sharpening them?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Learning to Think Strategically

Newly-promoted executives face a number of significant challenges as they adapt to an executive role. One of the most significant is the ability to think strategically.

In my 30 years of working with executives, it is rare that a new executive has that skill. Even among executives with years of experience relatively few are good at thinking strategically because they have built their careers on being good at operations.

Of course, operational excellence is extremely important, but so is keeping an eye on the external environment and that is a key role for any executive.

My point: Relatively few executives are skilled in thinking strategically.

The ability to think strategically is important for the entire management team, not just the top leader. You need all executives to develop strategic insights from their various perspectives and disciplines as input to business strategy.

Are you providing your executive team with development programs aimed at honing strategic thinking skills?

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Pay Attention to Key Management Processes

Innovation and continuous improvement keep operating processes efficient and effective, but too often management processes get neglected and they can cause significant problems during growth. What are management processes? Here are examples:

  • Ongoing strategic thinking and business insights
  • Strategic planning and periodic updates
  • Operating plans and budgeting
  • Goal-setting and accountability management
  • Performance reviews
  • Succession planning
  • Recruitment and selection
  • Training and development
  • Review of rewards competitiveness

These don’t have to be sophisticated and best-practice based, but they do need to be sufficiently effective to help drive the business forward.

What you don’t want is for these to be forgotten or to be administrative exercises. Each one has a purpose. Make sure each process is “owned” by a person who will sharpen the focus on key outcomes and oversee improvements.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is http://www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

Special Report: Retain Your Key People

The Wall Street Journal recently reported that employees are voluntarily quitting their jobs at the highest rate since the internet boom in 2001, and most of them are getting bigger paychecks – roughly 30% increases according to the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. The trend is across all industries and is due to the strong economy and very low unemployment.

Nearly all of my clients have reported losses of good people, mostly to competitor companies and for significantly higher pay, and many clients have been struggling to find good, reliable people to hire for some time now.

Here’s what you should be doing now:

1. Focus on Your Best People.

You cannot effectively address this concern by looking at your entire workforce. Instead, create a list of the 10-15% of employees who are high performers and/or the ones you cannot afford to lose because of their expertise and the critical nature of their jobs to your operations and your customers.

Go through the list person-by-person and determine the following:

  • Are they being paid what they are worth?
  • Are they being managed by an effective manager who is good at engaging and communicating with his/her people? Does the manager know of any frustrations or problems the employee is experiencing?
  • Are they challenged, stimulated, and feeling accomplishment?
  • Have they been told recently how much they are valued?
  • Is there a development plan in place specifically for each person to provide more opportunities to get involved in the business? For ideas, look at the article I co-wrote for Forbes: http://bit.ly/2KWb4P5

Make changes to fix any of the problems identified. If you need to make exceptions to pay policies or other practices, do it. These are your best/most valuable people. Losing any one of them will cost you 1.5-2 times their annual pay in lost productivity, position vacancy, costs to cover their absence, replacement and training costs associated with a new hire, etc.

These changes need to be proactive. Waiting until someone receives an offer from another company, then making a counter offer seldom works to retain the person, and even if you do manage to keep them, it causes ongoing resentment.

If you are concerned about losing the best of the best, then you might want to take even stronger measures, such as a long-term retention incentive. It accrues value for key people and if they leave the company, they’ll also forfeit the accrued value.

2. Strengthen Your Company’s Capability to Attract, Select, and Retain Good People

The ability to retain high performers is the result of doing many things well – not just one thing – and it begins with recruiting and selecting the right people in the first place. Of course, this is very challenging in a business environment like today’s, and that’s why it’s so important to do it well.

  • Create A Compelling Value Proposition. Answer this question: Why would a really good performer want to come to work at your company? (The answer is more than pay and benefits.)
  • Develop Specific Profiles. Ideally, you have very clear profiles of the kinds of people who fit your culture and who will perform well. These are not canned profiles from personality questionnaires, but rather the result of thinking-through the skills, perspectives, learning style and attitudes you want.
  • Strengthen Your Recruiting and Selection Process: You’ll also have an ongoing recruiting process – not just when there are openings, but all the time and with people who are already screened and qualified, ready for an offer. This needs to be treated as the important process it is, and continually improved.  Both quality AND speed are imperative in filling positions.

You can make a positive difference in retaining your most valued people, but like any other key challenge, it needs serious attention.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.

My website is www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com

When a Key Manager Isn’t Cutting It

Having the right strategy and structure is good, but you need to make sure that you have the right key players in every important management position. Is each one capable of helping to take your operation to the next level? Do they understand and are they fully committed to the strategy? Do they ‘pack the gear’ (skills, perspective, and attitude) necessary to be highly effective? – the skills, perspective, and attitudes.

If a manager is doing okay, but not excelling, what are you going to do about it? Live with it? Make work-arounds to accommodate them? Are you hesitant to make a move because an individual has been with the company for a long time and were effective in the past?

Whatever the situation, if he or she is not the right person for the position today, you must make a change. That does not necessarily mean he/she has to leave the company, but it does mean you have to face-up to the problem.

I have seen leaders live with mediocre talent that holds the entire company or division back. And I can tell you that in every case where action is taken to get the right talent in the position, everything seems to improve – the operations, the atmosphere, the energy, and the attitudes of high performers who all wonder why it took so long.

Don’t misunderstand me – this should not be a capricious or mean action. It needs to be handled with respect for the person and finding a solution that works for both the company and the person.

Chances are the person in question knows that he/she is not performing up to expectations and is not very happy with the situation and secretly wants a change. In many cases, a better position can be found where he/she will add good value. In other cases, they can be helped to find a much more appropriate and satisfying position in another company.

If you want to talk through a specific case, give me a call.

Copyright 2018 Bob Legge
___________________________
I am a trusted advisor to leaders of Fortune 500 companies, mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. My work helps leaders drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.

If you want to seize new opportunities, dramatically improve your leadership effectiveness, and free-up more time for yourself and your family, give me a call.
My website is www.boblegge.com
Contact me at: bob@boblegge.com