Every year, organizations invest millions, if not billions of dollars to generate sales, launch new products, improve customer service, increase employee effectiveness, and reduce inefficiencies, all in an effort to ultimately deliver on strategic priorities.
Process improvement initiatives, computer systems sporting acronym-laden names, and continual reorganization efforts often lead the pack. At times, desired results are achieved and the investment is validated. However, all too often, initiatives die on the vine due to leadership changes and lack of continued funding, or the muffled conversation that the effort should have never started in the first place eventually wins the day.
“It’s the little details that are vital. Little things make big things happen.”
– John Wooden
The answer to achieving amazing results often lies not in grand strategies or sweeping programs, but in the ability to develop leaders and teams that drive accountability, commitment, and engagement. Unlike significant changes to policies, processes, or procedures that can be expensive, time consuming, and gum the works, causing employees to dig deeper into their anti-change fighting positions, organizations that focus on developing leaders and teams benefit from an immediate and positive impact on business performance.
Since successful strategy execution occurs where individual employees and their leaders interact and make decisions on how to employ resources every day, the biggest opportunity to enhance change is at the team level.
What to Listen For…
If you want to increase your chance of driving strategic successes, work to get as many team members saying these things about each other:
1. “I know our customers and how our work helps them achieve their goals.”
Team members need to be crystal clear on who they serve, what matters to those they serve, and how the actions of the team can positively impact what matters to their clients. This is true whether your team serves the company’s ultimate customers or another team within the organization.
2. “I am clear on the purpose of our team and the value we add to the organization.”
Team members must understand what the organization has ‘hired’ the team to do. This is more then explaining the work they do or pointing to their place on the organizational chart. It involves knowing the results the team delivers and how those results add value to the organization.
3. “I am clear on our team priorities and how they drive organizational success.”
Losing focus costs time, money, and energy. Successful team members aren’t working from personal agendas, performing activities simply because they have grown accustomed to doing them, or confusing activity with results. Instead, they are crystal clear on the goals they are working to achieve. They know where they currently are, where they need to be, and when they will get there.
4. “I know how we are going to accomplish our priorities and the role I play in making things happen.”
Knowing the goal is important, but you also need to know how you are going make things happen. Great teams are clear on who is going to do what to what standard and by when. If every team member can’t explain the plan, you have a problem.
5. “I understand how we will hold each other accountable and achieve our efforts.”
Great don’t perform simply because the boss is watching them. They perform because they are holding each other accountable. They get together regularly, make commitments to one another, celebrate successes, learn from struggles, and move forward.
I encourage you to spend time with each of your team members and ask them these 5 questions?
- Perspective: Who do we serve and what matters most to them?
- Purpose: What is our team’s purpose?
- Priorities: What are our top priorities and how do they align to our strategy?
- Plan: What is our plan to making our priorities a reality?
- Performance: How does our team work together to accomplish our priorities?
Patrick Leddin, PhD is a speaker, global leadership consultant, and The Wall Street Journal bestselling author of The Five-Week Leadership Challenge. Patrick is an Associate Professor at Vanderbilt University with a thriving leadership blog and podcast, and 25-years of leadership experience. He offers an unparalleled mix of academic rigor and real-world experience.