The reason for such a large failure rate is that one jewel in the crown of execution excellence, which is invaluable compared to the rest, is missing. You can tell that this precious gem is absent when:
- You know what you need to do to make your business more successful but you don’t jump on those ideas and turn them into positive action in a
timely manner — or
- Despite the existence of a brilliant strategy, you can’t get people in your organization to carry it out.
The failure to implement strategies makes excellence in execution the number one leadership challenge in business. What goes wrong? Why do so many companies fail to execute? What is stopping them from being successful?
First, companies don’t fail to execute, people do. And self-interest is the gemstone responsible for what is not happening.
Because individuals are motivated by their own hierarchy of values, and in ways that are most personally beneficial, self-interest explains virtually all behavior and non-behavior – i.e., what gets done and what’s left undone.
In the first case above, when you consistently fail to make things happen on the job despite knowing what you need to do, chances are that your business goals and personal values are misaligned.
In the second situation, when you can’t get your people on board to implement the business strategy, in all likelihood they either dont perceive the pain and problem to be their own, or they don’t believe the gains and rewards are high enough to take priority over their own goals and interests.
One of my global clients, a CEO and top player in his industry, bypasses this obstacle by getting two birds with one stone: he personally welcomes employees who join his company and invites them to share their personal goals. Then he helps them get what they want while they help him get the outcomes he wants.
As a result, the employees take ownership of the products and services, the brand, and the company’s problems because the payback is in the currency they’ve chosen based on their individual values and goals. The self-interested actions of every member of the organization produce execution excellence. Captain and team forge a loyal, cohesive whole and boast one of the lowest turnover rates in the industry while attracting the best of talent.
Here are four ways to ensure your self-interest is being served so you can achieve excellence by implementing with speed and ease:
1. Check in with your values. Values are like your navigational route: you need to check in every now and then and make sure you’re still on course. For example, if you’re working for a company, are your values in line with those of the company? Or has something changed over time? This situation is like the proverbial boiling frog that didn’t notice the water temperature
in the pot increased from cold to very hot as the heat was turned up because the change was
incremental. It’s only by stepping back from such a situation that you realize, “Oh my gosh!
This water is awfully hot!”
The same thing happens when you run your own business. As you work with clients, are you
being true to your values? Or have you moved away from them? One of the reasons for the
latter could be that you’ve taken some projects that didn’t feel right, yet you felt compelled to
accept them. Perhaps it meant working with someone who was referred by an important
client, or taking on an engagement that seemed exciting yet did not help you achieve your
goals in situations like these i.e., when the work is not a perfect fit – you’re not able to
execute in an excellent way because you’re not being true to your values.
2. Unmask your musts. Taking this step is especially important because you experience
must in two different ways:
a. When must means “should” then it is a false must; it refers to what other people
want or expect of you.
b. When must means, “I’d love to or I live for this!” you know they are required in
order for you to live and to thrive.
Are you referring to the must you need in order to thrive? Or are you talking about the
must of should? The former is an internal must while the latter is external. Too often we
focus on the external must/should. Which must are you acting upon?
3. Do what delights you most. Focus on building your business in ways that are fun and
rewarding rather than doing what you think you should be doing or what everyone else is
doing. Innovate. Self-interest rooted in your core values and heart’s desires can dictate
definite direction that distinguishes you from the crowd or competition.
4. Realign responsibilities to reduce resistance. The reality is there are certain things you don’t enjoy doing but you have to do anyway. If you can’t delegate the task, here’s how to
sweeten the medicine. List as many ways as possible that this dreadful task contributes,
benefits, and serves your primary interest, goal or passion. Expect your initial reaction to be
It doesn’t! Continue building the list until you experience a shift that enables you to
engage in this activity with greater ease and effectiveness.
Execution excellence enables great results and is a natural outcome when you engage in work that serves your highest self-interest. Put the priceless gemstone of self-interest back in your crown by honoring your core values, verifying which musts you’re acting on, doing what delights you most, and realigning responsibilities to reduce resistance. Then, make it happen. Isn’t it time you made the world a better place by stepping into your greatness?