One of the emerging issues in business today is how we begin to develop the leaders we need for the future. Yet the dilemma is that the future will only come by successfully executing strategy with the leaders you have today. The following are what I call the 8D’s that define the key strategy execution leadership skills to guide any organization’s current and future leaders.

A strategic leader must be able to:

1. Define strategy coherently through effective communication. This is not about publishing an organization’s strategic plan or making a PowerPoint presentation at a Town Hall meeting. It involves developing and telling a story that sticks in the minds of each employee, consistently. Paint the picture with a visual map that illustrates how the business model drives value for the customers you serve, how you will compete over time, and the strategy execution capabilities required to win.

2. Diagnose improvements by sponsoring and building a continuous improvement in the management process. Resist taking a “fire-fighting” approach to deal with performance issues after they’ve come up. Instead, periodically determine the system constraints to resolve core organizational performance issues, especially in your implementation systems and capabilities. Organizational theorist Eli Goldratt calls this the leadership commitment to POOGI (Process Of Ongoing Improvement).

3. Deliver results by honing quality decision-making as an organizational competence. Ensure that your management teams are clear about how quality decisions are made in the company. Results are achieved through effective decision-making by all employees when making the myriad decisions necessary during execution. A leader’s job is to teach others how to think and make good decisions for the enterprise based on its culture, strategy and problem-solving processes.

4. Drive change using management practices such as integrated execution planning and deliverable-based change leadership. Change is so fundamental to modern business that I begin my planning and leadership workshops with this quote from Darwin: “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” The illusive pursuit of an adaptive enterprise can only evolve when the organization understands both how change occurs and how to actually plan and execute it. It requires a systemic approach to understanding the nature of change inside a complex system, to create the necessary change in people, systems, processes, policies and technologies.

5. Devote resources to creating “people sustainability”. Energize and develop valued employees through appreciative recognition, effective performance management design and professional development. One of the primary reasons people leave a company is dissatisfaction with the relationship they have with their direct supervisor. In exit interviews, salary is usually ranked lower than many other issues as to why people leave. Issue/opportunity/recognition management is one of a leader’s vital people management skills.

6. Demonstrate passion for your values to model the culture you want to see in your company. Posting printed reminders about the company’s values in all the meeting rooms won’t cut it. It takes acute awareness that a leader’s actual behavior is the biggest indicator of what a company values. People are 10 times more likely to follow what you do versus what you say! Start with developing and implementing a clear culture strategy for the leaders of your organization. Organizational cultural intelligence may be the most effective competitive weapon you have as it guides how you will execute your strategy.

7. Discover the power of facilitative leadership for better problem-solving, creativity and innovation. Don’t let the wisdom of the group go untapped by telling people what to do even when you think you have the right approach or solution. Learn to facilitate engaged conversations so everyone can contribute and own responsibility for creating, planning and executing their work with a higher degree of confidence and commitment. This collaborative leadership skill is becoming imperative in resolving complex challenges, creating innovative products and services, and managing highly diversified enterprises. It could arguably be the best risk management intervention you will ever do.

8. Develop a leadership pipeline and transitions to build the capacity for future managers and leaders. Set aside time for coaching and succession planning at key levels of the organization’s management structure! As I have stressed in my book and previous articles, what makes a leader’s job difficult is having to balance working “on” the business developing people, systems, etc with working “in” the business serving customers every day. The challenge is to create a management system where working in the business doesn’t preclude quality time to build your leadership and managerial pipeline as well as your own leadership skills.

Focus on these 8 D’s as the indispensable leadership development areas to help you master the ability to execute your strategy and forge a competitive and sustainable enterprise.

By William Malek, from:



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

clear formSubmit