5 Strategy Execution Attributes

Bob Schultek Author of
The Gauntlet

Executing a new strategy involves acting in a new or different way; it’s a change process.

Because the strategy is a change, there will likely be some resistance to it. Those who will implement the strategy, and those impacted by it, want to understand its objective and why this is the best way to achieve it. They will assess how well the strategy aligns with company culture, and how they will personally be affected by its implementation. Enabling this assessment reduces the change resistance and reveals advocates who can bring the strategy into reality.

A key characteristic for these strategy advocates is their capacity for critical thinking. Former Wall Street Journal writer George Anders identifies 5 attributes that define this competency:

  1. Willingness: The confidence and enthusiasm to challenge the status quo, explore concepts for which no rules or precedents yet exist, and adapt to new circumstances. This demonstrates a comfort with “knowing what to do when you’re on your own.”
  2. Curiosity: In this era of “too much data, not enough clarity,” leaders need advocates to calmly and productively distill information and connect the dots. Curiosity fuels imagination to work through ambiguity and discover insights that can accelerate strategy implementation.
  3. Expertise: The ability, gained through experience, to combine synergistic insights when this can expedite decision-making and change realization.
  4. Empathy: The proficiency to “balance different perspectives and agendas” and “still keep everything moving forward.”
  5. Credibility: Leaders need advocates who are authentic, are able to “inspire confidence…and energize others to embrace change” by presenting cogent, persuasive arguments, and by remaining personally engaged in the strategy execution initiative. In contrast, asserting authority to compel change often has the opposite effect, depressing morale and prompting cynicism.

How are you choosing your strategy execution advocates?

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