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Execute strategic plans with precision to distinguish yourself as a great leader
Strategic plans are only as good as your execution of them. In other words, it doesn’t matter how great your strategy is or how much time you’ve invested in the plans to support it if you’re unable to execute with great precision. Precise execution distinguishes good leaders from great leaders, so it’s critically important that you work hard to execute with great precision.
Executing with great precision over time is what creates track records of success for individuals and teams. To grow in an organization you must precisely execute your strategic plans time and time again to distinguish yourself as a great leader. While it’s unrealistic to drive perfection, paying attention to detail and taking care to frequently inspect your plans will set you up for success.
Focusing on three key areas will help you achieve precise execution in your work.
Don’t Shortchange Upfront Planning
Planning is a critically important part of any work effort. Spending significant time brainstorming, documenting, and refining plans enables you to anticipate needs and challenges, and appropriately plot the course for a successful outcome. Completing multiple iterations of updates to your plans over short periods of time enables you to increase accuracy of execution before it happens. Sharing plans with stakeholders at key milestones throughout the planning process is a key step to ensure you haven’t missed, overlooked, or miscalculated important details.
There is an old saying, measure twice and cut once, meaning double check your plans before you execute. Great leaders not only embrace this thinking in their planning, but they also go the extra mile to stay close to their plans and complete frequent reviews and iterations to feel incredibly confident. Allowing appropriate time to plan, think, refine, and repeat makes plans incredibly stronger.
Get Everyone Involved Onboard
In addition to getting buy-in from key stakeholders during the planning process, you’ll want to work hard to bring everyone involved together so they are prepared to provide support during execution. No matter how large or small the person’s role, keeping others tightly connected during the planning phase enables you to effective mobilize the team during execution.
Taking plans on a road show to share with others that are one to two levels down from those directly supporting the project is a great way to make everyone aware of what to expect, even if their role is indirect. Frequent communication across a wide range of stakeholders and others that are directly and indirectly impacted by your work helps you avoid surprises that negatively impact execution. Making others aware of what’s coming helps you better anticipate obstacles and spot additional opportunities. It also highlights that you lead complex initiatives from the front, which is a key characteristic of great leaders.
Leverage a Simple Project Plan
Leveraging a simple project plan enables you to track the progression of your efforts and keep the project on schedule. You’ll want to include key milestones, including stakeholder reviews in your project plan. It’s important your project plan is simple and inclusive of the specific levers that will drive successful outcomes. Keeping your project plan simple keeps your focus on driving the work and not managing the project plan. The goal is to strike the right balance of detail and simplicity that drives quality work flow and deliverables.
Dedicating time to review progress enables you to keep the project on track so execution activities and stakeholder support are cohesively aligned. A focus on coordinated actions and quality deliverables make it easy to avoid gaps in execution. Don’t hesitate to add steps in your project plan or edit steps during execution if it helps you better direct the work. Spotting and closing gaps in your plans before they become challenges is key to precision.
Appropriate planning is the foundation of precise execution and successful outcomes. Additionally, ensuring everyone has contributed, provided feedback, and is bought in on the front end sets you up for success during execution. Monitoring progress against key milestones keeps plans on track in manageable parts, heightening your ability to meticulously deliver the subset of parts. Focusing on these few key areas will result in precise execution every time. Completed across projects over time, your quality outcomes create a track record of success that differentiate you as a great leader.
Ask Yourself These Questions
- What is the right amount of time to allocate for planning?
- What key milestones should progress be measured against?
- Who are the key stakeholders to keep tightly connected?
- Who else will be impacted during execution?
- How should I organize my project plan to keep it simple?
About John Fildes
I grow the bottom line by connecting marketing to business strategy. By leveraging powerful positioning, content marketing, and client insights, I help CEOs drive qualitative and quantitative results at scale.
I've built an amazing network of incredibly talented people over the years. What I've appreciated most is those who have invested in me, mentored me, and helped me become the talented professional I am today. I pay it forward by doing the same for other high performing professionals and entrepreneurs.
All views are my own and not those of my current or prior employers.