Andrew Marsh, chair of Vistage for the North East and Northumberland, NED for numerous businesses and charities; and successful entrepreneur, has committed to imparting his knowledge throughout 2021 to help business leaders come out of the last year with a solid view for the future.
In this latest series, he has discussed trust and communication. Here, in his latest article, he looks at the importance of execution based on Andrew’s passion that there is no point having plans and building blocks if the end execution isn’t clear and successful.
“Execution is the stay pin of success. Put together every other element in running a great business and you are on the way there but without great execution as your core principle, you will never succeed.
“Referring back to one of Vistage’s favourite motivational gurus Jim Collins, and his map of input and outputs, there are four stages to success which encompass building a greatness to last. The outputs we should be seeking are all the things that a great company should be – producing superior results, making a distinct impact and creating a lasting endurance.
“Within those four stages, execution is the one where discipline is most needed. Having disciplined people and disciplined thought is important, but having disciplined actions executed is for me where the money is.
“First of all, be clear on where you are going and where you are taking your company. Mixed messages, ambiguous desires and over complicated plans will never make the grade. Clear, concise and as straight forward as you can make your destination should be your focus. And remember it should be a moving destination, so once you have reached one celebratory moment, there is always the next level to achieve.
“As well as a clear direction on where you are going, there needs to be very clear action points for yourself as a leader and for each member of your team. These need to be easy to understand and are one of the best ways to form annual KPI’s. Use the action points and performance measurements to drive success, display trust in your team and crucially as a leader, always make sure they have the tools to rise to the challenge. If they don’t, then invest. And encourage each of your team to have their very own 1-3-5 outlining the target, the 3 strategies and the 5 actions needed per strategy to make it happen. Great practice.
“Finally, you as a leader need to understand your own personal drivers and the real drivers of your team. Personally, to map this out, I use something called a Flywheel. The Flywheel is a continuous circle that has clearly defined points, skills, actions and results. Another way to feel out your drivers is the process known as war-gaming, which I have talked about previously. Imagine the worst outcome of your future and then work backwards to work out what not to do! Look for mistakes, pitfalls and reasons to not do something.
“ A great part of being good at execution is recognising what kind of leader you need to be in different scenarios. Do you need to be transformational, visionary, delegative, participative, transactional or authoritarian? You may need some help with this, and that is where being involved in leadership peer groups and / or mentoring will help massively.
“A great leader who strives for great execution also remembers to celebrate. Every win, every success, every positive thing by the team, celebrate it. This sets a tone and people thrive under it. If you do something well, use it as a cannonball to smash in other walls, especially walls you didn’t think you could!
“A great tip, which being involved in peer groups helps with, is to remember to look out of the side windows sometimes. Imagine your company’s journey is like being a car, the rear mirror shows you the past, the windscreen the future… but don’t forget what is happening in the here and now. Look to side to spot what could go wrong or more excitingly, opportunities that pop up on the way. Be mindful of these side indicators and articulate your thoughts well to the team.
“Finally, my closing tip is to always remember one thing to be successful. Keep It Simple!”