Were you impatient as a child? Give me, Give Me, GIVE ME! As a child we are all pretty impatient. But we grew up and we mellowed and learned (to varying degrees) patience. So why are managers so impatient when implementing a new strategic direction? Don't give up and tear up your wonderful new plan. If the tactics and actions in your new plans were simple and easy to execute, you would already have done them. You just need to find 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 lack time in the role) you are automatically inpatient. What I mean by unseasoned leadership is there are many executives that have reached their leadership position because they are recognized as a great manager or have a proven track record of hitting goals. However, great competencies in managing people and processes or operational excellence in driving performance don’t necessarily prepare you for guiding the organization through the complexity of implmenting a new direction. New strategic directions are often messy and chaotic in their early stages. If your experience has been honed where the path to success is clear, you may not yet learned how to navigate the imperfect nature of innovation. And let me be clear, if you have a new direction you should be innovating.
So, how do you demonstrate the patience and confidence of a seasoned leader when you are in this new territory of strategy implementation? Here are my top 3 recommendations.
- Re-establish your core belief in the plan. Re-read your strategic plan. Reground yourself in the core assumptions about your marketplace and your belief in the best bet for you to “win” in the future. Do you still believe the thinking is right and true? Yes, then settle yourself down and talk about that belief over and over again to solidify the direction for yourself and your team. If not, it is time to bring your strategy team back together and tweak or change your plan.
- Get in the game! I know you already have a pretty big job, and part of that should be leading the plan implementation. If you don’t have a clear role and your team seems to be moving it along without your involvement, you are in a spectator role and as we all know watching is hard. You can get impatient. Any significant strategic direction requires visible senior level leadership throughout the development and implementation of the plan. If you are not working hard to achieve the plan, you aren’t in the game! Get in the game.
- STUDY Often I say “the things that made you successful to date, may not be enough to continue your success in the future”. This is especially true as it relates to leading the implementation of a new strategic direction. You need to start studying your future reality so you are prepared for it. If you are becoming impatient with progress, you may not fully understand the complexity of this new world and your anxiety may be getting the best of you. Your strategic planning process should have given you a good understanding of where you believe you are heading, but it is up to you to become an expert in where you are heading. Don’t wait for it to be fed to you in your plan reviews or by some problem that you need to resolve along the way. Read everything you can get your hands on to become the expert in your own future!
These three tips will strengthen your strategic management capabilities and significantly improve your patience with the sometime unpredictable nature of strategy implementation.
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