What comes to mind when you think about successful leadership? Maybe it’s a specific person or a personality type. Maybe you identify a position in your organization that needs to be filled. Or maybe you think of an inherent ability to understand and interact with people.
All of these things can describe people we think of as leaders, but effective leaders are more than the sum of their roles. They understand not only how to create vision and strategy, but how to execute them.
Leadership consultant and author Ken Blanchard describes leadership this way: “The key to successful leadership is influence, not authority.” In other words, leadership isn’t just about filling a role or assigning tasks to others. It’s about knowing how to inspire people and motivate them to get a job done.
What does that look like in action? Effective leaders know how to:
Set a Clear Vision
Visionary leadership identifies a desired outcome and establishes a strategy for achieving that outcome. Clear vision guides decision-making, inspires employees, and keeps everyone moving in the right direction.
Align Values and Communicate Purpose
Once you have a clear picture of where you’re headed, the next step is bringing others on onboard. Aligning your vision with your organization’s goals and values provides the “why” that gives your team purpose. It’s the crucial step to bridging the gap between vision and execution.
Execute the Vision
With all your stakeholders on board, the final step is seeing the vision through to completion. That includes creating a step-by-step plan for how you’ll get from where you are to where you need to be, as well as a strategy for overcoming challenges and risks that may arise.
Of these, the execution component is often the most troublesome for leaders as they straddle the line between supporting their teams and getting bogged down with too many details. The good news is that the skills required for successful execution of your vision can be learned.
5 Keys to Successful Execution of Vision
Successful execution depends on both of the first two elements being in place. You cannot execute a vague vision; and you also cannot execute a clear vision that your team doesn’t understand or hasn’t bought into.
While vision and alignment are both critical, they aren’t enough. Even if everyone understands the vision and is aligned with your organizational mission and values, that doesn’t necessarily mean you can just turn them loose to get it done. Leaders still need to provide guidance so teams can successfully achieve goals.
What does that look like?
1. Set attainable goals.
Start by setting your long-term goal. Then, work backward from that goal to establish priorities and milestones that will get you to the desired end point. Each of these milestones should include a specific, time-based objective as well as a clear measure of success. For long-term initiatives, consider setting weekly, monthly, quarterly, and annual goals to ensure that you are making consistent progress.
2. Identify deliverables.
Next, determine the specific deliverables that must be accomplished to successfully achieve your goal. Deliverables should be concrete and clearly defined so that everyone on the team knows exactly what is expected. For example, if you are creating a new marketing plan, you might set a goal to build out a social media content calendar for the next month.
3. Delegate responsibility.
As a leader, it can be tempting to bear all the responsibility for execution yourself. Don’t fall into this trap. Delegate ownership of various tasks and deliverables to members of your team so that they can manage the nuts and bolts. Your job as the leader is to make sure everyone stays on track and remains aligned with the vision.
4. Schedule regular check-ins.
Set up weekly, monthly, and quarterly check-ins to measure progress against your goals. Some of these meetings may require formal reports, while others can be informal times for everyone to touch base and keep each other in the loop. During these meetings, team members can provide updates on progress, ask clarifying questions, get input on any challenges they have encountered, and receive feedback.
5. Recognize and reflect.
As you make progress toward goals, take time to recognize the achievements of your team and reflect on how the process has gone. Ask questions like these:
- Do you have the resources you need?
- Are you able to get answers from people when you have questions?
- Do leaders communicate clearly and frequently enough?
- What things are going well?
- What things are not going well?
- How could we make changes to improve?
Execute Your Vision with Confidence
Successfully executing your vision requires careful planning, sustainable momentum, and clear direction. You will also need buy-in from your team and from any other stakeholders who may influence outcomes.
In our Making the Connection Leadership Series, we show you how to capitalize on your strengths so you can lead your team in accomplishing your goals. You’ll learn how to make your vision a reality by understanding your leadership style and developing key skills to build motivation and trust with your team.
Join us to sharpen your team’s leadership skills through coaching, group discussions, and practical courses!