7 Factors challenging leaders' ability to balance strategy and execution
This article explains why leaders struggle between balancing strategy and execution.
Of course, most major CEOs of Fortune 500 companies do not wrestle as much with how much to plan and strategize versus executing. However, when leaders sit in roles such as the Director, Vice President and sometimes even the Senior Vice President, the appropriate balance between strategy and execution can become a little murky.
One might speculate that the mass exodus of administrative assistants during challenging economic times of the eighties, 2008 and beyond has led to leaders among everyone else doing far more. Therefore, leaders’ tendency to be far more tactical in traditionally strategic roles has become more common. Many leaders became successful by their excellent execution style so why would they abandon something that has made them so successful? The assumption often is what would get them there is what has already gotten them here. As we know from experience and Marshall Goldsmith, this is often not true.
The appropriate balance between strategy and execution, of course, depends on various factors.
1. How many resources do you have? If you have a significant number of deliverables often on your desk with little staff, the temptation or necessity may be to focus on tactical matters. In that event, the title doesn’t necessarily match the available job slotted.
2. What is the quality of the resources that you have? Is the talent on your team competent in the work needed to be accomplished? Some leaders are inundated with tactical responsibilities because they work with staff members who are not competent in the space.
3. Are you a micromanager? Some leaders not only want something always done right, but always done their way. Micromanagers not only limit the growth of their staff, but they limit their own capacity to grow, be strategic and create beyond the tactical to dos.
4. Is strategy rewarded? In some organizations, creativity is not appreciated and even shunned as too risky. Such environments discourage leaders from being strategic to think beyond what the organization is currently doing since greater rewards are reaped by simply doing what has always been done well.
5. Do you know how to delegate? Leaders who are not comfortable with passing on duties or do not know how to appropriately divide responsibilities among themselves and their direct reports have a tendency to be more tactical and just do the task when they don’t know how to prepare someone else to do it.
6. Are you a spotlight hoarder? Some leaders hoard duties because they want to hoard the spotlight, they don’t want to risk their direct reports outshining them. Such leaders are most dangerous for organizations.
7. Are you a leader who is strategic? Some leaders are misplaced. While they have been promoted based upon effective execution in their prior role, they are a misfit, not strategy savvy enough in their current role.
These are some reasons why leaders struggle between strategy and execution. Of course, the reasons will indicate the appropriate action to follow. Leaders should understand their styles of leadership as well as the strengths and challenges that come with such styles. Understanding limitations will enable leaders to address such competency gaps.
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