Lead Change is a leadership media destination with a unique editorial focus on driving change within organizations, teams, and individuals. Lead Change, a division of Weaving Influence, publishes twice monthly with SmartBrief. Today’s post is by Mark Miller.
What do the best organizations in the world have in common? They all excel at execution. Yes, but how?
After investing the better part of a decade exploring the topic of high performance, much has become clear about what sets the best organizations apart from all the rest. As described in the book “Chess Not Checkers,” high-performance organizations do four things with great levels of intentionality:
- Bet on Leadership
- Act as One
- Win the Heart
- Excel at Execution
Here’s how it all fits together: If you want to achieve and sustain elite levels of execution, an organization must be led well, aligned, and the people fully engaged. Only then will you have positioned yourself well to excel at execution.
After a multi-year journey, working with some of the best organizations in the world, we’re excited to share the Fundamentals of Execution as outlined in my book “Win Every Day.”
No organization will merely drift to elite levels of execution. Individuals must commit to the journey. Mastery is a level of skill in which the desired behavior is consistent, executed flawlessly, and the behavior is second nature. The goal of mastery is to do the right thing the right way every time. This is a high bar, but the goal compels those who embrace it to perform at a higher level. The skeptics will say this is an unrealistic expectation, and they’d be correct. We are setting forth a goal, not an expectation. Lofty goals inspire; unachievable expectations discourage, deflate and lead to disengagement.
Own the numbers
The people in your organization are the ones who drive the numbers. However, most people in most organizations do not even know the numbers. Help every member of the team understand their numbers as well as the team’s. The more the individual’s scorecard aligns with their own work, the more power you will unleash. After everyone knows the numbers, you have to empower them to own them. Challenge them to improve them and celebrate them when they do. Resource and train them so they can improve their effectiveness. And as you do these things, your improvement efforts will accelerate.
Help others win
This is the most culture shifting of the three fundamentals. To pursue mastery and own the numbers affects primarily the work of the individual; when everyone agrees to serve others on the journey, the ethos of the organization shifts. Men and women who have historically been bystanders will enter the game. You’ll witness more training, encouragement and accountability from people who would have in the past looked the other way or deferred to the leader.
Now, if these ideas don’t feel all-powerful to you, let me add the final piece of the puzzle. This idea is foundational to building any high-performance organization: The magic is in the masses. These fundamentals, if embraced by only a few, will have no significant impact on your organization. The untapped potential lies in your people — all of them.
Sound simple? Not really. How do you move an organization in mass to do anything? Well, there were clues all along our journey. Interviews with leaders as well as live, in-field experiences in 70 organizations who tested our concepts led us to identify some key “plays” leaders should consider to accelerate the adoption of the fundamentals. I’ll share three of them here.
- Coach for life. When we help people win in life and become the best version of themselves, they are much more willing to help the organization win.
- Focus on process. If we want to help people own the numbers, leaders need to help people evaluate the process that led to the numbers.
- Communicate tirelessly. There is a direct correlation between how well and how often leaders communicate about execution-related issues and the level of execution in the organization.
The fundamentals must be taught, modeled, embraced and activated to create the level of performance we witnessed firsthand. If you will help every member of your organization put these three simple ideas into daily practice, transformation awaits –for the individual, for the organization and for you as a leader.
Mark Miller is a business leader, international best-selling author, and currently serves as vice president of high performance leadership at Chick-fil-A. As an author, he now has more than 1 million books in print, including his latest book, “Win Every Day.” Learn more at his website.