Powerful Ideas to Improve Your Leadership

From many years of coaching executives, here are five pointers for becoming a better leader:IMG_4487

  1. Hire people who are better than you in their discipline; not subordinates.
  2. Focus yourself on key priorities — move a few things forward a mile rather than a lot of things forward an inch.
  3. Focus your people on results; not activities.
  4. Demand commitment; not compliance.
  5. Encourage and reward open, honest, and insightful thinking; not going with the flow.
  6. Expect people to fail now and then. Mistakes are part of learning.

© 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

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

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

Turning Culture Into Competitive Advantage

Oops!  In last Monday’s email, I wrote that a 1000-foot runway (implementation plan) would be insufficient for a beautiful jet (corporate strategy) that requires a runway of 10,000 feet.  At least that is what I meant to write.  The typo was reported to me numerous times: First by a perceptive reader in Estonia, then another in Hong Kong, and then an onslaught of readers from the U.S. and Canada.  Thanks for keeping me on my toes.

Turning Culture into Competitive Advantage

Sooner or later theories need to become practical actions that drive results — one of the hallmarks of my consulting work.

Last week I read an excellent article about how one law firm is using culture as a competitive advantage, and most importantly, the specific actions that make it work.

If corporate culture has always seemed to be a fuzzy notion to you, and you want to understand how culture can be used to drive measurable results, read Ed Hourihan’s excellent article from the New York Law Journal about how Bond Schoeneck & King PLLC,  is doing just that.  It should trigger some good ideas for you.

Here’s the link:  http://bit.ly/2e2wSDd

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

Why You Need Your Own Best Practices

There are very, very few companies that have been great over a long time.  It’s as if they were able to assemble an organization, a strategy, a culture, and product/services that was aligned, efficient, effective, and driven to deliver what the market wanted at a precise moment in history, but it was not sustainable.  Or they became less competitive, or their product or service was superseded by something better.  Think of Kodak, Xerox, Compaq, and most recently, Blackberry.

The problem is that when they are at the top and business is booming, everyone points at them as something to emulate.  The admirers hold them up as the ‘way to do it’ and they attempt to copy the success.  United tried to copy Southwest with Ted, K-Mart tried to copy Wal-Mart, Compaq tried to copy Dell, and none of those worked.

I’m not saying that we can’t learn from others.  What I am saying is be careful about trying to copy what someone else does well.  Focus instead on the few truisms that will enhance your own strategy, culture, and operations.  Develop monitoring systems that alert you to changes external and internal to your own organization.  And build skills at strategy, execution, and organization development without heavy reliance on models based on other companies.

© 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

5 Key Levers for Successful Strategy Execution

Most strategies fail to achieve their objectives, not because the strategies are faulty, but because the implementation is weak.  It’s like building a beautiful jet airplane requiring 5000 feet to take off, but having a runway of only 2500 feet for it.  The examples are all over the place and it doesn’t matter if it’s an organic growth Jetstrategy, a merger, an acquisition, or any significant strategy involving change; if your implementation is weak, the odds of failing is high.

What makes for strong implementation?  The top five success factors are these:

  1. Articulating a clear direction forward. A leader who clearly articulates a vision of the future, or a compelling mission, or a distinctive strategy, or all three.  Sometimes a clear vision of the future and the strategy to get there work the best.  Other times, especially when the future cannot be seen so clearly, a compelling mission statement such as Jack Welch’s “Be number one or number two” provides the best direction.  For a long time “Beat Benz” was the mission of Toyota.
  2. Building a culture and process of accountability at all levels of management beginning at the top. If the senior executives aren’t actively demonstrating sponsorship for the strategy, if they aren’t making priority decisions and modeling the right behaviors, then prepare to fail.  One utility became a client when their strategy was failing and they realized they needed much better implementation.  When I told them that they were the primary problem because they were more interested in their own functional objectives than in furthering the strategy, they didn’t like it.  In fact, they argued for a while, but in the end stepped-up their game and the strategy was a big success.  The real key here is the productive use of metrics.
  3. Creating employee ownership of the strategy – helping them feel a part of the business. T-shirts, coffee mugs, mouse pads, and strategy presentations can help, but if that’s all you’re doing, you’re missing the point entirely.  You have to help employees feel a part of the business, to know that the organization’s success translates into success for them at some level.  Being a great place to work is not the same thing as aligning the organization’s best interests with your own.  Focus less on what motivates individuals and more on making the connection between what’s in it for an individual to have a stake in the organization’s goals.  The difference is passion.
  4. Communicating continually where the organization is headed and what progress has been achieved. This includes injecting energy and rejecting diversions.  My rule of thumb is that when the time comes that you are you’re sick and tired of communicating the strategy, that’s when you are beginning to get through.
  5. Putting all forms of bureaucracy, procedure, policy, reporting, and meeting on trial for their lives. Find out what gets in the way of people doing what they need to do, and clear the way.  Bureaucracy only develops in cultures that value safety and risk avoidance,  abhor responsibility and accountability, and derive satisfaction from wielding limited power to control others.  Peter Drucker once said, “Much of what we call management is making it difficult for people to do their work.”  That, and not valuing the knowledge and skills of the people you have, are shortcuts to creating a low-performing organization.

© 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