I am very excited about the 10th Anniversary of the book The Secret by Ken Blanchard and Mark Miller. Both authors have helped shape my leadership style and beliefs. I am honored to be part of the buzz this week as the 10th Anniversary Edition is launched. The following is a guest post by Mark Miller.
The truth is I could write a hundred posts on questions leaders ask. But, rather than write about the many, I’ve chosen to focus on How will we get there?
“How will we get there?” is a question of strategy. Strategy, simply stated, is a chosen path to a pre-determined destination.
Here’s an example: If you want to improve student test scores, one strategy could be to improve their study habits; another might be to involve their parents more; another option would be to improve the their classroom experience; or, you could focus on improving the teachers. This list could be very long. It could also be overwhelming. Strategy is fundamentally a choice – which path will you choose?
That’s not to say you couldn’t have multiple strategies. However, you cannot do everything. Strategy always involves a choice. Our work as leaders is to determine the best choice from a virtually limitless sea of options. Setting strategic direction is one of our core responsibilities as leaders.
As you consider your strategy, the following questions may help.
If we execute our strategy flawlessly, what’s our confidence level we’ll achieve our goal?
If your confidence that a flawlessly executed strategy will not generate the results you desire is low, you probably have the wrong strategy. Or, perhaps it’s just incomplete. In my example about improving test scores, the odds are good, success will require more than a single strategy.
Do we have the resources (time, money, people, expertise) to execute the strategy we’ve outlined?
When I played football in high school, other teams would constantly throw long touchdowns passes against us. As a 16-year old, I remember wondering why we never threw long passes. It wasn’t until years later I realized, we didn’t have a quarterback who could throw long passes nor receivers who could catch them. Our coach was wise. He knew he shouldn’t call a play we couldn’t run. Leaders shouldn’t establish strategies your team can’t execute either.
Who is accountable to execute the strategy?
Most strategies do not fail – the failure is usually one of execution. Volumes have been written on execution. I’ve even written a little about it myself in a post entitled, Flawless Execution. My best advice to improve execution is to be clear regarding who specifically, is accountable. This won’t solve all your execution issues, but at least you know where the buck stops.
Over the years, it has become increasingly clear to me, the more questions I ask, the better I lead. However, if you don’t ask, and answer, the big three questions (Where are we going? Where are we today? How will we get there?), all the other questions are irrelevant.
This post originally published on Wednesday, March 12, 2014 at http://www.greatleadersserve.org
Mark Miller, Vice President of Organizational Effectiveness for Chick-fil-A, believes that leadership is not something that’s exclusive; within the grasp of an elite few, but beyond the reach of everyone else. In the tenth anniversary edition of The Secret, Miller reminds readers of a seemingly contradictory concept: to lead is to serve. With more than 600,000 books in print, Mark has been surprised by the response and delighted to serve leaders through his writing.
Practical and uplifting, The Secret has been inspiring leaders for the past 10 years. This book’s wisdom benefits not only those who read it, but also the people who look to them for guidance. Learn more about:
Why great leaders seem pre-occupied with the future
How team members ultimately determine your success or failure
What (3) arenas require continuous improvement
Why true success in leadership has two essential components
How to knowingly strengthen – or unwittingly destroy – credibility
Photo courtesy of Flikr creative commons by cristinacosta