Getting It Done
We are in the business of helping clients define and implement the changes necessary to compete in today’s competitive environment. We’ve come to realize that our clients’ success depends, in large part, on how good they are at executing the plans they conceive. Why are some companies so good at it? And why do others fail miserably? In this issue, we visit with executives who we believe are really good at “getting things done”. We asked them to share their thoughts on execution in broad terms and then to divulge their secrets for how they go about getting things done.
Leading with Your Heart and Soul
Authors Larry Bossidy (vice chair of GE and chairman of Honeywell International) and Ram Charan (legendary advisor to senior executives and boards of directors) contend that an organization can only execute well if the leader’s heart and soul are immersed in the company.
In their recent book, Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done Bossidy and Charan tell us that “leading is more than thinking big, or schmoozing with investors and lawmakers, although those are part of the job. The leader has to be engaged personally and deeply in the business.” They make the point that execution requires a comprehensive understanding of a business, its people, and its environment. “The leader is the only person in a position to achieve that understanding. And only the leader can make execution happen, through his or her personal involvement in the substance and even the details of execution.”
The authors argue that the leader must be in charge of getting things done by running three core processes – picking other leaders, setting the strategic direction, and conducting operations. They claim that “these actions are the substance of execution, and leaders cannot delegate them regardless of the size of the organization.” The leader has to run the three core processes and “has to run them with intensity and rigor.”
Here are their arguments for why the leader must run the processes:
- Only a leader can ask the tough questions that everyone needs to answer, then manage the process of debating the information and making the right trade-offs. (And only a leader who’s intimately engaged in the business can know enough to have the comprehensive view and ask the tough incisive questions.)
- Only the leader can set the tone for dialogue in the organization. How people talk to each other absolutely determines how well the organization will function. The authors ask: “Is the dialogue stilted, politicized, fragmented, and butt-covering? Or is it candid and reality-based, raising the right questions, debating them, and finding realistic solutions.”
In their book, the authors detail the leader’s role in each of the three core processes (people, strategies, and operations). To read more about their book or to order it, Click here.