Willpower Beats Horsepower

Has your team got willpower? Here are 7 steps you can take today to drive the focus and delivery discipline of your organisation

Meanwhile, a much smaller client, with revenues no greater than £50 million has made great strides with its priority initiatives. The team has implemented new IT systems, significantly grown its on-line sales channel and invested in new product launches. As a result, sales and profits are starting to accelerate and the wider organisation is getting behind the leadership team and the strategy.

So, how can a small organisation, with limited access to extra financial or people resources, outpace a much larger, resource-rich business?

The reason is that strategy delivery is driven primarily by focus and discipline, rather than by resource levels. Or, as I put it, willpower beats horsepower.

Here are 7 steps you can take today to drive the focus and delivery discipline of your organisation:

  1. Embed a single, over-arching goal.

    A shared goal encourages your people to focus on longer-term performance, rather than simply short-term results. At Topps Tiles, for instance, I worked with the leadership team to establish a goal of growing market share from 25% to 33% over a 4-year period. As the CEO, Matt Williams, commented, “A specific and clear goal galvanised the entire organisation and has been a key part of our success.”

  2. Manage your leadership team’s diaries.

    One of my clients ensures that all members of the executive team split their time as follows. 80% on delivering the current year results; 15% on delivering next year’s results; and 5% on delivering future years’ results. As the saying nearly goes, the diary never lies. Review and adjust you and your team’s diaries to ensure you are appropriately focused on both short and medium-term performance.

  3. Ensure clear ownership of your most important projects.

    You must identify a single owner for each of your key strategic initiatives. That person does not have to do all the work, but should be willing to be accountable for the development and delivery of both milestones and results.

  4. Establish regular senior-level review meetings.

    Regular, ideally monthly, review meetings with your project owners is critical to success. Your team will focus on what you focus on. If you are solely focused on short-term results, do not be surprised if your managers do not spend too much time on longer-term initiatives. For many leaders, these meetings can seem, well, a little boring, but they are critical to your ultimate success.

  5. Create a culture of cross-functional collaboration.

    Functional silos were a key problem at my larger client. Teams from different departments simply never worked with each other; managers said it was just too hard to get people together. Most important projects are by their nature, however, cross-functional and you must encourage, demand and reward the development of cross-functional project teams.

  6. Celebrate successes.

    The CEO of my smaller client ensured that all key milestones were celebrated and that the people who delivered those successes were publicly praised. Her actions raised support for the longer-term projects and built engagement and bottom-up support for the company’s strategic priorities.

  7. Become a role model of discipline.

    As I’ve noted, as a leader of your team or organisation, your people will follow your behavioural lead. If you can demonstrate the necessary discipline – in terms of goal-setting, meetings, diary management, holding others to account and celebrating successes – your teams will too.

Which of these 7 steps could help your business to develop the discipline and willpower necessary to accelerate the delivery of your strategic ambitions?

 

© Stuart Cross 2017. All rights reserved.

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