Top 7 Obstacles Getting in the Way of Your Strategy

Over the past 30 years, I’ve worked on strategy and strategy execution with the senior management of Fortune 1000 companies, mid-market companies, and Inc 5000 companies.  In all that time, and across all industries and size of companies, these eight obstacles to achieving strategic goals stand out as the ones I most often work with senior management to overcome.  (Not in any particular order.)

  1. Lack of Accountability.  You need people who know the ongoing results expected of them and who can be relied on to get those results all the time.  It is a cultural problem and an individual person problem to begin with.  If it continues, it is a management problem.
  2. Employees who don’t act like owners.  You need people who are focused on results; common values, and who reflect both in their everyday behaviors.  I can understand why a particular employee may not want to do that, but I do not understand leaders who allow it to continue.  Some of the solution is on leaders to provide the right environment, treat people respectfully, and weed out those who don’t fully contribute.  The rest of the solution is on individuals and the volition to be involved.
  3. The business strategy is unclear (or non-existent.)  Having an action plan is not the same as having a strategy.  High performers need to know where you’re taking the company, not just what actions and results are expected of them everyday.
  4. The organization structure gets in the way.  In general, your organization should be designed around the few processes that drive the most value, not functions or fiefdoms.  The worst is when an organization structure decision, or “work-around” is made to accommodate a weak player.
  5. Key competencies are weak or missing.  Skills, capabilities, and talent drives value.  That includes leadership.  You cannot overcome deficiencies in this area by ignoring them.
  6. Plans and metrics are not aligned with the strategy.  You need an organization that is sharply-focused on driving the strategic objectives in a collaborative and aligned way.  There is no such thing as independent functions; if you have them, get rid of them.
  7. A sub-optimal mindset.  A success mindset, especially at the top, is imperative.  Every one of your key players, in management and throughout the organization, needs to have a confident, optimistic, determined mindset.  Anything else is an energy-sapper and time-waster.

How many of these are you experiencing?

Copyright 2017  Bob Legge

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Bob Legge has an unmatched ability to help clients achieve competitive advantage, leaving competitors in their dust.  He has worked with companies across industries and geographies to align critical elements, dominate their markets, and achieve dramatic results, such as 600% revenue increase in three years.  Personally, he enjoys sailing where both his strategic abilities and tactical skills help him see interesting places while having a fabulous time with friends and family. .

Contact him at:   bob.legge@leggecompany.com.

10 Ways to Eliminate Mediocrity in Your Organization

An organization that accepts mediocrity is a haven for under performers, and very frustrating for high performers.  Here are ten ideas I found in my work with organizations are each effective in reducing mediocrity.  Best of all, you can put any of these ideas to work immediately.  If you can accomplish 8 to 10 of them, you’ll sharply-focus your organization, reinforce strong accountability, and dramatically improve operating results.

  1. Improve your hiring selection process to focus on behaviors that support your culture, as well as a performance track record, and an attitude of learning and growth. One of the best ways to improve overall quality of results is to make sure that you don’t hire problem performers.  Set a goal to always hire individuals who are better than your average performer, that way you’ll constantly be upgrading your talent.
  2. Educate all your managers, especially at the top, about how they should lead, manage, and coach their people. Create “the way we manage people here” mentality along with specific guidelines and company leadership values.  Too often organizations don’t do this and managers end up ‘doing their own thing.’  That’s not good quality people management.  A smart practice is to ensure that every manager has a people-related accountability and performance objective.
  3. Continually improve your strategy development process so that you have a clear direction and overall performance objectives. A good process for creating strategy involves key people so that they all understand it, contribute to the development, have buy-in, and can continually reinforce it throughout the organization.
  4. Make a conscious effort to communicate strategy throughout your organization so that know what to focus on in their daily work to help achieve the strategy. You want an organization where everyone understands where the organization is going and how it expects to get there.  I’ve seen companies not communicate strategy because they think their strategy is so confidential.  Hogwash!  How are your people to know what they are working towards if you don’t tell them.
  5. Develop a goal-setting process that aligns effort and results on key metrics. Setting overall goals and specific objectives is where the rubber meets the road.  You’ve got to translate the strategy into specific goals and objectives for groups and individuals.  Schedule goal setting to begin the year with goals; not 3-4 months after the start of the year.
  6. Provide regular performance feedback (“Here’s how you’ve done.”) and performance feed-forward (“Here’s how you can be more effective going forward.”) Of the two, feed-forward is more effective in improving performance.  Regular feedback is at least monthly, not annually.
  7. Understand that newer employees, those working remotely, recently promoted, and longer-term employees all have different needs for feedback — one standard approach is unlikely to work for   In short:  Know how much feedback each person requires.
  8. Create a system where people can track their own results and get feedback from their peers on where they stand, what they are doing well, and how they can be more effective. Incorporate your own organization’s best practices.  Make this a dynamic system.  There are some great tools available to automate this process and implement a ‘social media’ kind of performance feedback system.
  9. Identify under-performers early. Give them candid feedback, specific improvement objectives, and the opportunity to improve.  When you have a performance problem, determine whether it is a skills issue or a motivation issue — the solution is quite different for each.
  10. Develop a standard separation process to exit people from the organization while treating them fairly and with dignity. Separating people is never pleasant, but a good process will make it easier.

Stop procrastinating about this whole issue — begin today.  The best time to begin is now because every day you wait is another day that you are not getting the results you need, and another day that your best performers wonder if things will ever change.

If you want to get off to a fast start, call me and together we’ll put together a plan to immediately get better results.

© 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

Creating an Anticipatory Set

When something bad is about to happen, people will get tense.  When beginning a competition, people will become focused.  When preparing for a happy occasion, people will become relaxed.  They anticipate what the event will entail and set their own expectations and body language in preparation.

Effective teachers know this, and they will prepare their students by getting them ready to learn.  They call it the “anticipatory set.”  It makes learning more effective for the students, and easier for the themselves.

Leaders and managers can do the same thing, by creating conditions in which their people perform at higher than normal levels, depending on what the challenge is.  From high-stress to low-stress situations, an anticipatory set improves outcomes.

What is the anticipatory set that you create for your weekly staff meetings, your one-on-ones, and other key interactions?

Three Imperatives of Profitable Growth

From over 30 years of working with organizations of all sizes and in many industries on improving business outcomes especially growth and profits:

  1. The most valuable part is having a plan that focuses on both distinctive strategy and operational excellence.
  2. The hardest part is sticking to the plan by following-up on performance commitments including position accountabilities, projects, and key operating measures.
  3. The chief downfall is not aligning the organization with plan. Successful companies have one plan with everyone understanding their role in getting results.  Also-rans may have a plan, but they let organizational functions and departments do their own thing.

© 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

I Don’t Want to Hear “Hopefully”

The foundation of accountability is commitment.

When one is committed to accomplishing something, the hesitation and fear are replaced by resolve and energy.   When one is not committed, they tend to produce long stories and excuses.

During one of my senior executive stints, a manager who reported to me had a standard reply when I asked when a task or result would be completed.  She would say, “Hopefully….”   She was not committed, nor was she accountable.

Sometimes a person will say, “I cannot be accountable for that because I don’t have full control over it.”  He or she is confusing being accountable with being in control.  Hardly anyone is fully in control:  A sales person does not have full control over buyers buying, but they are still accountable for the result.  A manufacturing manager does not have full control over efficiencies or safety, but is still accountable for both.  The challenge of accountability is to take whatever actions are necessary (within the values of the organization) to get the result.

Accountability is being answerable for results.  Responsibility is being answerable for actions and behaviors.  Both rest on commitment.

© 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

Improving Management Development

David Ogilve, the advertising guru, once noted that half the money spent on advertising is wasted; the problem being that no one knows which half.  The same could be said of training, although I suspect that perhaps as much as 90% of training is wasted.  And unlike advertising, we can know what training is wasted — it’s the training that doesn’t transfer to the workplace.

Management training in particular is fraught with this anomaly.  Time and again I’ve seen companies spend a lot of money on supervisor training with little to show for it.  Even though all the participants are grateful for the opportunity to attend the training, and they come back with glowing reviews of the instructor and the course, very few of what is taught results in improved performance.

Some years ago a study compared the various ways of developing executives and managers and looked at the resulting improvements in performance.  What they concluded was that the very best development experiences happened when participants worked on real business problems in their own companies.  Not only did they solve real problems, but they also learned a lot, all of which they could use on the job.

The bottom line is that putting people to work on real problems, with the time to do it and some good guidance, will give you a far better return on investment than sending everyone off to the next public seminar.  Think about it.

© 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