Do This Before the End of February

It’s February and you’ve got most of the year still ahead.   See if you can answer these questions clearly and briefly:

  1. What is your strategy?
  2. What is the over-arching vision you have for your company?
  3. What is the major theme, or themes, you want your people to run hard at this year?
  4. What are your top three priorities for the company?

Your people want to know how to move forward, what to base their day-to-day decisions on, and how to know they are on-track.  If you’ve put together a simple roadmap or strategy, it will be found posted in their work areas, cubicles and offices.  More complex strategies are in PowerPoint presentations or binders and they rarely get looked at.  So if you can answer the four questions above, make sure your people know the answers too.  If you can’t answer them, you need to get to work.  As I said, most of the year is still ahead.

© Copyright 2017  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com

What’s Your Point?

Many people tell me that they like my On the Same Page emails because they are brief, to-the-point, and practical.  I try to do the same thing when I speak.  Because I learned some time ago that the very best leaders I’ve worked with don’t need a lot of words — they express their thoughts effectively and confidently by being terse.  In comparison, I see people in meetings get long-winded, going off on tangents, telling stories, or even repeating what they say.

I’ve found that the longer one talks, the less they actually communicate.   That’s either because their message gets lost in all the words, or they don’t really know what their message is.

When you’re clear about your message, you are able to say it briefly.  Work on this for yourself and for your team.  It will help make meetings shorter and more effective.  A tip:  Ask, “What’s your point?”

© Copyright 2016  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com

Do You Have Enough Runway for Your Strategy?

My client called me to help improve company performance.  The strategy they had developed was beautiful, like a new 747, capable of taking them where they wanted to go.  The problem was with how they were implementing and executing the strategy — they had built an equally-beautiful 5000-foot runway, but their 747 required 1000 feet to take-off.

Strategies never fail in the boardroom or strategy retreat.  It’s in how it is implemented.  Ask yourself:

  • Do we have the right message and ability to communicate this strategy to our people?
  • Do we have the organization structure we need to carry-out this strategy?
  • Do we have the right people in all the key positions?
  • Do we have the quality of management processes to translate this strategy down through the organization?
  • And do we have the right reward systems to drive performance?

In the end, we launched that strategy and achieved the levels of profitable growth they had targeted.  Make sure you build the right runway for your strategy to succeed.

© Copyright 2016  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge provides organizations with the ability to exceed their most ambitious goals.  I work with leaders of Fortune 500 companies, small and mid-size companies, nonprofits, education, and government. Together, we drive strategy, lead successful change, develop high performance cultures, improve individual and organizational performance, and produce faster, sustainable growth and value.  Contact him at  bob.legge@leggecompany.com

What Leaders Don’t Know — But Should

Executives, and most of all, Chief Executives, need to be concerned about the information they are NOT hearing.  There are many reasons why the information they get is filtered, even by their own direct reports.  I met with a CEO of a large organization last year who had no idea that one of his top executives was abusive to employees — yet the entire organization knew it.  No one wanted to be the one to tell him and he didn’t have in place communication mechanisms to get information deep in his organization.

For example, when I was on the operating committee of Adelphia Communications during their bankruptcy, the acting CEO and I traveled across the country talking with employees at all levels.  They wanted to hear straight talk from the leadership, and we wanted to hear the same from them.

Sometimes, the information is both important and strategic.  Andy Grove, the former CEO of Intel who died last week, wrote about the agonizing difficulty in changing Intel’s business from making memory products to processors.  He said that people deep within the organization knew the need for change months before the executives did.

The point is this:  Leaders need ways to understand what is happening, what people are thinking, and how things are going when direct reports aren’t providing that information.  Want ideas?  Danny Wegman regularly walks his grocery stores talking with employees.  You can do the same in your business.  Employee surveys are good for eliciting widespread feedback — we’ve effectively provided good information from employee populations well over 10,000 with survey participation of better than 95%.  Focus groups offer the ability to probe deeper into key issues.  Other ideas such as listening tours, meeting with small groups over lunch can also be effective.

I regularly provide client CEOs and executives with insights by meeting with direct reports and other employees, giving them the opportunity to express themselves candidly.  It’s amazing how much new and surprising information comes out.

So, what approach should you use?  My advice is to get clear on your specific objectives and then determine which alternatives best achieves those objectives.  If you want help thinking it through, let me know.

Do your people talk about results — or activities?

During the many years I’ve been working with companies, the characteristics of high-performing and ineffective organizations is stark.  In high-performing companies, people talk about the many ways to achieve significantly better results.  They are energized by improving the way they do things, solving problems and learning.

In ineffective companies, the talk is all about tracking and monitoring activities.  They tell stories and give excuses for why something didn’t happen, and it’s always something other than themselves that causes weak performance.

Where’s the focus in your company?  What are you doing to make results, not activities, the topic of conversations?

Are You An Effective Communicator?

90% of managers believe they are good or excellent communicators, while the people they’re leading put that number at about 20%.  That is pretty much universal.  What makes for an excellent communicator?    Concise writing, focused speaking, and testing for understanding are all important, but the key attributes of effective executives are reflective listening and insightful questioning.  Remember too that communication does not happen when a message is sent, but when it is received and understood.  That is especially important in an age when everyone is bombarded by messages.  Communication skills are hugely important and can be learned if you take the initiative.

You’ll Never Get Commitment Using Logic

In response to one of my recent emails concerning commitment, several clients asked, “So what are the leadership steps to getting commitment?”  Here’s one of the most important:  Don’t rely on logic; tap into emotion.

It’s what marketers do, and when you’re looking to build commitment, that’s exactly what you are doing too — marketing.  You’ve got to appeal to people’s rational self-interest and do it in a way that is both compelling and exciting.  For example, tell them why this is the most exciting time in the organization’s history.  Tell a story that conveys the reason your mission is important to them personally.  Whatever you do, don’t do a PowerPoint presentation full of business jargon.  As author Alan Weiss says, “Logic makes you think, but emotion makes you act.”