Were you impatient as a child? Give me, Give Me, GIVE ME!
As a child, we are all pretty impatient. But we grew up. We mellowed, and we learned (to varying degrees) patience. So why are managers so impatient when implementing a new strategic direction?
We find managers often stress out and lose the patience required is because the path to do so is complex. But, if the tactics and actions to execute a new plan were simple, it would have been done already!
When implementing a new direction, you need to rely on or channel the wisdom of a seasoned leader.
Unseasoned Leadership is the Root Cause of Impatience during Strategy Implementation
I don’t mean to suggest that if you are a new leader, you are automatically inpatient. I want to call attention to the reality that many experienced leaders know. Change always meets resistance. You need to plan and prepare for it.
Leaders are often selected because they are recognized as great managers or have a proven track record of hitting goals. However, competencies in managing people or an aptitude for delivering operational excellence don’t necessarily prepare one for guiding the organization through the complexity of implementing a new direction.
In the early stage, a new strategic direction is often messy and chaotic. And suppose your experience has been primarily operational. In that case, you may be most familiar with executing a plan where the path to success is clearly defined with data dashboards and performance metrics to track progress. Implementing a change or new direction means you will have to learn how to navigate the imperfect nature of innovation and define the path as you go.
Here are my top 3 recommendations for inserting seasoned leadership wisdom into how you can effectively lead the implementation of a new strategic direction.
Re-establish your core belief in the plan. Re-read your strategic plan. Reground yourself in the core assumptions about why this decision makes sense. Reconnect with your belief that it is the best bet for you to “win” in the future. Do you still believe the thinking is correct and valid? Yes, then settle yourself down and talk through the strategy so you can defend it. If you no longer agree with the direction upon reexamination, bring the decision-making team back together and tweak or change your plan.
- Get in the game! If you have a leadership role in driving the initiative, then use your commitment to success to push for performance against the goals defined. Take it personally and win over those who want to ignore progress in favor of the status quo. If, however, your contribution is more limited, say to a sponsorship role, don’t be fooled into thinking this role is less critical. Pay close and visible attention to the implementation priorities, secure needed resources, and reduce barriers to demonstrate commitment to change.
- STUDY In implementing a new direction, I often say, “the things that made you successful to date may not be enough to continue your success in the future.” What I mean by this is that you are entering new territory in which your existing knowledge and experience may reduce your decision-making confidence. You can increase your confidence by acquiring new knowledge to make the best decision throughout the implementation phase – study. Become a student of this new area and an expert in leading change. Read everything you can get your hands on to become the expert in your future!
These three tips will strengthen your strategic management capabilities and significantly improve your patience with the sometimes unpredictable nature of strategy implementation.
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