Winston Churchill famously said, “However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.” Execution is the hard work between designing the strategy and the results, the impact. Here are some more thoughts on the four disciplines of getting things done.
1. Focus on the wildly important (see my previous post on this discipline)
2. Set lead measures
After the team has agreed to an overarching important goal for a season, help the team set lead measures that will, by God’s grace, result in the fulfillment of the goal.
To understand lead measures, you must understand the difference between lead measures and lag measures. Lead measures are predictive. Lag measures are outcome based. For example, imagine you set a goal to lose 15 pounds by June 1. The 15 pounds is the clear lag measure. You know the goal and the due date. But to execute well, you need lead measures. It may be your caloric intake, the number of times you hit the gym each week, and the number of cheat meals you are allowed. If you don’t have the right lead measures, you will not hit the lag measure.
John Calipari, the coach of the UK Wildcats, demonstrated a wise understanding of lead measures as he led his team to the NCAA championship last season. If you watched the pre-game footage, you noticed him giving clear lead measures to his players in terms of the number of turnovers to force, rebounds to grab, and foul trouble to avoid. He understood that he needed to do more than tell his players to win; he needed to give them clear measures that would result in a win.
In summary, don’t just set and declare an important goal. Set lead measures underneath that goal. Otherwise team members will know the “what” but they won’t understand the “how” and their role.
3. Keep the goal (and the score) in front of the team
When you set a clear goal for your team, you must identify what success will be. How will you know the goal is accomplished? Keep “the win” in front of the team in a compelling way. Surface it in meetings, discuss as a team, and ensure it is before the group at all times.
4. Create a culture of accountability
In a culture of execution, there is also a culture of accountability. When people on the team set lead measures underneath the overarching goal, there must be freedom to discuss the progress, trust to quickly put problems on the table, and courage to confront issues. A culture of accountability does not mean people are knighted to be jerks. But it does mean the team understands the expectations and is willing to hold each other accountable, without the leader needing to be the only one providing the accountability. If the leader is the only one providing accountability, there is a leader of accountability, not a culture of accountability.