The Five Behaviors
The cornerstone of execution is the ability to get the right things done on time and on budget. Yet studies show that less than a third of projects meet this criterion. Our research shows that senior executives want partners that solve problems, think holistically about the whole business, and share perspectives on the changing world. They want less talk and more execution. What are the top five behaviors that senior leaders are looking for in sales organizations? We recently uncovered the following themes. Partnerships that:
- Embrace insatiable curiosity, intentional listening, and uncommon insights.
- Think holistically, push boundaries, challenge customers.
- Operate with a healthy obsession, questioning themselves & taking nothing for granted.
- Embrace speed, transparency, and a granular understanding of customer’s needs.
- Can answer the question, “what’s next?”
The feedback I gathered points to one overriding idea: There is way too much talk, and not enough results. Genius is overrated. Harvard Business Review’s research suggests that even alignment is overrated. Executing successfully requires a unique blend of work ethic and reliability. Success is not about shortcuts and “hacks.” It’s about putting in the hours.
In real life, strategy is very straightforward. Pick a general direction and implement like hell. Source: Jack Welch
How to Create a Culture that Loves Execution
“Hire leaders who love to execute” says Larry Bossidy, author of the book Execution. Bossidy shares, “When assessing candidates: Does she talk about the thrill of getting things done, the obstacles overcome…or does she keep wandering back to strategy?… I saw that leaders placed too much emphasis on what some call high-level strategy and not enough on implementation. People would agree on a project and then nothing would come of it.” On the matter, Napoleon says, “The art of war does not require complicated maneuvers; the simplest are the best and common sense is fundamental…Generals make blunders; it is because they try to be clever.” Great execution is rooted in a systematic process. What is your systematic process, and are you adept at diagnosing before prescribing a solution? Executional excellence is a practice. The score takes care of itself, was the ethos of NFL Hall of Fame coach Bill Walsh. It’s the process.
I don’t think I was a fine game coach. I think I was a good practice coach.
Source: John Wooden
Does your organization practice the mindset of executional excellence? Noted artist, Chuck Close, famously said, “Inspiration is for amateurs — the rest of us just show up and get to work.” We cloak our aspirations in mystery – but the truth is 95% of the returns come from simply dedicating a time and space to develop the skill. Aaron Sorkin reminds us that, “Decisions are made by those who show up.” Such is the nature of execution: it occurs only when you commit to press in. Execution is a practice. How are you working on this mindset? Memories of Herb Brooks screaming “Again!” arise when I say that results are guaranteed when your team allots more time to the process, the details, the politics, and the implementation of your next presentation. It’s the little things that matter. I recently uncovered three executional ideas shared by members of the Elevation Forum leadership group. You are guaranteed to drive results if you embrace these ideas.
- Role-play prior to big customer meetings. Practice your execution. Practice the call like it’s live.
- Obsessing about competitors can be a killer distraction. Customer obsession is the answer.
- Execution is often hindered by not understanding customer or industry politics. Prior to your next big call, discuss the politics, the nuances, and the unstated struggles of your customer.
Exceptional execution is always accompanied with deep listening. Listening is the ultimate mark of respect. Listening is the heart of engagement. Listening is the engine of execution.