“Authenticity is the alignment of head, mouth, heart and feet – thinking, saying, feeling, and doing the same thing – consistently. This builds trust, and followers love leaders they can trust.” – Lance Secretan, Author of Inspire! What Great Leaders Do

Strategy or execution: Which is more important?

If you get a bunch of leaders in the room debating about what is more important – strategy or execution – it’s going to be lively. If you get a bunch of consultants, it’ll be even livelier – and you’ll hear all kinds of theories.

More important than either one, I say, is alignment.

You can have an amazing strategy that gives you a competitive advantage – but if it’s not well executed there’s no benefit. You can have a mediocre strategy that’s executed perfectly – and you’re not going to get the full result either.

So when we go into a new company to help improve performance we always start with alignment. Whether it’s around a good strategy or executing the right things, what truly matters is that all of the key people in the organization are clear on what needs to happen – and are spending a notable chunk of their time working on it.

Alignment helps a strategy to come to life, and helps executives to work in harmony. And a good place to start is to get agreement on what’s not working – or on what the biggest challenges are in the company. Those are things most people agree on.

As we go through a strategic planning process with a company – whether we are focused on strategy, strength of the team, or financials – our goal, bit by bit, is to get everyone on the same page.

Every decision you can get people to agree on as a team – creates additional team alignment.

“We’re great at this…we’re horrible at that.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity…this is a waste of time.”

“This project was a success and why…or a failure and why…or an expensive learning experience and why.”

One neat package

I had an amazing experience at the quarterly meeting of one of the companies we’ve been working with…everything made complete sense!

  • When the CFO presented the financials everyone agreed on the numbers for where we were in the business.
  • When the CEO reviewed the goals for the quarter, we had crystal clear updates on where we were at, where we slipped and what we needed to do to recover.
  • Every single member of the leadership team reported on KPIs, on how they were doing and where they should be, and on their individual priorities for the quarter.

The whole thing aligned into one neat package. Everyone knew their part in moving the company forward. Everyone knew how he or she had performed because, in this review process, they assessed themselves.

In fact, the CEO of the business said, “This makes me even believe we don’t need a performance review process. This is our performance review. If we, as a team, deliver on our priorities for the quarter – and you, as individuals, each deliver on your KPIs and priorities – then we are all amazing. If one of us isn’t doing well, it’s pretty darn apparent.”

The point is this: In your company your strategy and execution do need to be good. But most importantly you need to have team alignment throughout the entire company so that people are obviously connected to your strategy – and people are obviously executing it in a way that works – together.

Then when things don’t go as planned – because they never do – you can quickly identify and adjust, and then improve the plan to be more effective.