Your Team Doesn’t Understand Your Strategy As Well As You Think
One of the most common areas of feedback I hear from senior managers about the executive team is a lack of strategic clarity. You may feel like this doesn’t apply to you, but if you are open to a bit of self-reflection here, I’d suggest it very well may. Even in companies that have rigor around goal setting, operating plans, and metrics, in private conversations, many a leader has shared with me that they don’t see a clear or well-defined strategy for the growth of a division, a business unit, or an entire company.
Plenty has been written about strategy, and still, David Collis and Michael Rukstad wrote in Harvard Business Review about the “dirty little secret” that most executives cannot articulate their strategy. And as they pointed out, “If they can’t, neither can anyone else.” So, can you explain your growth strategy succinctly and clearly so that everyone on your team can understand it and knows their part in making it a reality?
A well-defined growth strategy answers a handful of critical questions and forms a framework that guides the decisions at every level of the business. In my new book, The Butterfly Effect: How Great Leaders Drive and Sustain Revenue Growth, I share a strategy framework called the “5 Big Things.” Here they are:
- What defines success? — What are your primary measures?
- What is our “Power Play”? — Why are you the best choice for customers?
- Who will value our “Power Play”? — What customers will you most likely succeed with?
- How does our sales experience create value? — What is compelling about the way in which we engage?
- What must we improve, build, or acquire? — What strengths do we need to invest in if we are to get or stay ahead of the curve?
There is a tremendous amount of depth within each of these questions. Doing the hard work to express your growth strategy without corporate speak and with clarity and focus is one of the most important jobs you have as an executive.
There Are No News Stories About the Planes That Landed:
The title says it all here. Our media and news sources do not cover much in terms of the good happening. Keep this in mind as you watch, scroll and click.
Putting Your Best Face Forward:
I recently discovered the Twitter account of the Room Rater, with the handle @ratemyskyperoom? It’s a humorous site that offers critiques of the home office settings of those authors and pundits who appear on TV news programs.
Though the site is mostly for laughs, there are some good observations in the mix that we can all learn from as we spend our days on videoconference. Of course, we’d all like to show up as our best selves — at least for our upper third.
Some suggestions I’ve gleaned from the site:
- Have a plant. It’s good to have a little life in the background, provided it’s healthy. Hide droopy plants that suggest you’re not a good caretaker.
- Try some art. I’d suggest something attractive and not provocative or polarizing. A little color can add interest for viewers.
- Books are a good choice, provided you actually have a collection you can be proud of. Check the titles before you go live. The Secret of the Old Clock, featuring teen sleuth Nancy Drew, is unlikely to impress the board of directors. (I’ll try to come up with a different book title)
- Family photos offer a point of connection and make you look approachable.
- Don’t brag. A bowling trophy can add some charm, but don’t line up dozens of your awards.
- Be careful about kids and pets. In general, they’re best on the other side of a closed door.
- Wear something businesslike, even if casual, and simple. A solid color is best.
- Try to put yourself at the center of an interesting, but not distracting, composition. Make sure you’re well lit. Audio and visual quality are the most important considerations, but do be sure to assess your setting before going live.
- Avoid artificial backgrounds. In April and May of this year it was fun to see people at the beach or in front of the Eiffel Tower. Now it mostly looks silly. If you must add it for a moment as a conversation pieces but then get back to reality.
Have you learned other tips or found likes/dislikes? Let me know what they are and I’ll see about compiling a second list of best practices in a few weeks.
I recently stumbled across an interesting article in that its subject was supporting remote workers — but it was written in 2019. Part of why so many companies transitioned so quickly to remote work is that we were already transitioning to flexible worklives before the pandemic hit!
“How to Create Belonging for Remote Workers” by Liz Fosslien and Mollie West-Duffy, published by MITSloan Management Review on Feb. 8, 2019, offers practical steps managers and colleagues can take to make their remote employees feel ingrained in the company culture. The authors even provide a chart called “Liz’s Hierarchy of Remote Work Needs,” based on Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. At the base of the pyramid lies physiological needs for Maslow — and coffee for the authors. At the top of the pyramid, where Maslow has self-actualization, these authors place “Putting phone on airplane mode.”
Read the article for tips on establishing “virtual watercoolers” for your home workers.
And if you like these, my articles on leading from home and why remote workers are more engaged may be of interest too…