1. Focus on the top goals.
In our turbulent times, you can’t afford to take your eye off the key goal. Organizations fail to execute their key goals when (1) there are too many goals, (2) there are no defined goals, or (3) people get distracted from the goals.
Think about it. If you have one goal, you chances of achieving it with excellence are high. If you have two substantive goals, you have just cut in half your chances of achieving them both with excellence. Three goals make things geometrically more chancy. And so forth.
No defined goals. Too many organizations have no goals to speak of—that is, no one can speak of them because no one really knows what they are. If your success depends on a critical goal, it’s worth defining well.
People get distracted from the goals. But in bad times, the distractions are more severe than ever. The first requirement of a good execution system is that everyone must know and buy in to the key goals.
2. Make sure everyone knows the specific job to be done to achieve these goals.
Leaders decide what the goal is, but they don’t decide how to achieve it; that’s where the team comes in.
Leaders who hand down goals must give teams the time and opportunity to learn how to achieve them. By definition, every new goal requires people to do things they’ve never done before.
3. Keep score.
Smart leaders know that there are two kinds of measures to watch: lag measures and lead measures. Lag measures are the ones we usually think of because they tell us what just happened. Lead measures, on the other hand, are predictive and influenceable. They tell you what is likely to happen. You can control them.
A weak leader focuses only on lag measures.
A strong leader focuses on lead measures. She helps the team isolate three or four key actions the team can control and that are most likely to bring the desired results. Then she tracks those actions consistently.
4. Set up a regular cycle of follow-through.
The mistake leaders often make is to announce a grand goal and then sit back in luxurious expectation that it will happen. If you never ask about the goal, you team members won’t care about it. They have plenty to do already. If you don’t revisit progress on the goal regularly and frequently, team members will conclude that you didn’t mean it, and they will go do what they normally do.
From "Predictable Results in Unpredictable Times"
By Stephen R. Covey and Bob Whitman