4 Disciplines of Execution Business Leaders Should Adopt Now

Published: March 7, 2017

Do you ever feel like you’re caught in a whirlwind with no hope of escaping? Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Chris McChesney, global practice leader of execution at FranklinCovey and co-author or “The 4 Disciplines of Execution,” says most people find themselves caught up in the whirlwind of “urgent” day-to-day tasks to the detriment of their goals, which are important, but too often set aside.

“When something urgent bumps into something important, our brains always go to the urgent,” McChesney told hundreds of industry business leaders at NSCA’s 19th annual Business and Leadership Conference.

“Strategic initiatives die because we’re busy. The trick is executing our goals in the middle of the whirlwind,” he says.

But how does that happen? McChesney’s four disciplines—focus, leverage, engagement and accountability—are crucial in stepping outside the storm that’s raging around us and moving toward new activities that could represent significant growth opportunities.

Discipline 1: Focus on Wildly Important Goals

McChesney calls it a trap for leaders to say yes to every good idea they hear. When you focus on two or three goals, generally you can achieve those two or three goals. When you focus on four to 10 goals, you’ll achieve maybe one or two of them. If you focus on 11 to 20 goals, you’ll achieve none.

Not everything in the whirlwind needs to be turned into a goal, says McChesney. He notes it’s important to understand the difference between sustaining and optimizing.

“Wildly important goals become those based on the treatment you give them,” says McChesney. “You’re taking something from a strategic intent to specific finish lines.”

To ensure you achieve your “wildly important goals,” start with those goals and determine the fewest battles needed to win the war. Make sure each team has no more than one WIG at a time and be sure to veto ideas that don’t help achieve the goals but don’t dictate to the group. Set expectations to reach milestones using the format “from X to Y by when?”


Discipline 2: Act on Lead Measures

We’ve all tried to move a boulder and realized we’d have a lot better success moving the rock with a lever than trying to push it ourselves. In fact, that’s where we got the word “leverage.” If the lever moves, the rock moves. That’s the principle of lag vs. lead. It’s similar to weight loss, where the pounds coming off represent the lag and diet and exercise represent leads.

“Lags are easy to track, but leads aren’t,” says McChesney. Qualified prospects lead to new accounts, he says, and safety compliance leads to fewer accidents.

“There’s a big difference between knowing something and knowing the data behind it,” says McChesney.

Discipline 3: Keep a Compelling Scoreboard

Have you ever notice how people ramp up the intensity when they’re keeping score? McChesney says the difference is truly pronounced. To be compelling, players’ scoreboards must be simple, must be highly visible, must use the right lead and lag measures and tell us immediately if we’re winning.

“The number one driver of morale and engagement is if people feel like they’re winning,” says McChesney.

Discipline 4: Create a Cadence of Accountability

Continuing on the theme of focus, McChesney says, leaders must think about the one to three things they can do this week to affect lead measures. That means, in part, streamlining those often-tedious meetings in which we’ve all participated.

The most effective meetings start with a report on last week, continue with a review and update of the scoreboard and wrap up when participants make commitments for the next week.

Two keys when it comes to creating accountability, says McChesney: don’t give someone else their own commitments and ensure the goals remain part of a high-stakes game.

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Posted in: Insights, News

Tagged with: BLC, Must-Read, NSCA

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