Execution is an easy concept to talk about, but it’s a hard one to well … execute. The main problem is that it is a real challenge to measure and manage a concept. However, once you convert concepts into behaviors, you have something you can observe, measure and manage.

The three components of execution and their specific behaviors to support each one are drawn from 25 years of corporate leadership, business ownership, field research, executive consulting, and training with many of the world’s leading organizations like Fossil, KidKraft, National Motor Club, FedEx, KPMG, Nestle, Sysco, Johnson Controls, Pier 1 Imports and many more smaller companies and start-ups.

1. Sharpen your Focus.  

Focus provides the clarity necessary to make decisions that support your most important goals. It results in a clearly-defined pathway to success. A sharp focus answers the “what” question: What do you need to do to execute your strategy?


Keep it simple:

  • Think in threes to simplify strategies, metrics, and actions.
  • Apply the 80/20 principle to focus on the 20 percent that are your vital few.

Identify your one thing:

  • Decide what is most important – the one activity that most directly helps you execute your plan.
  • Align your one thing with the organization’s most important
  • Ask your team, “What is the most valuable thing you can do right now?”

Know when to say no:

  • Create decision hurdles to filter new opportunities.
  • Say no to activities, tasks, reports, meetings, and projects that do not directly support your plan.
  • Apply the Four Ds: Do it, Delegate it, Defer it, Dump it.

2. Build your Competence.  

Competence is used here in the broadest sense of the term. It encompasses all the skills, systems, processes and tools your team uses to achieve its goals. The result is the ability to commit to, measure and hit your targets. Building competence answers the “how” question: How will you execute your strategy?


Treasure your talent:

  • Select smart – use the 3 x 3 x 3 interview process (3 people interview 3 candidates on 3 separate occasions).
  • Treat employee development as a perpetual priority.
  • Coach for success with four steps: explain, ask, involve, and appreciate.

Get systematic:

  • Create repeatable work systems.
  • Collaborate with clear roles. (Lead the team, Do the work, Share the expertise, Get informed)
  • Innovate daily – what’s the small idea?

Balance your view:

  • Seek both dashboard (general) and under-the-hood (detailed) knowledge about your operation.
  • Track leading and lagging indicators.
  • Keep the score visible with a clear and compelling scoreboard.

3. Ignite your Passion.  

Passion creates a sense of connectedness. It builds a connection between teammates, a connection to our human need for meaningful work and a connection to each individual’s sense of value and contribution. Igniting passion answers the “why” question: Why are you executing your strategy?

Paint the picture:

  • Connect each job to a broader purpose.
  • Always answer the fundamental four questions.
  • Communicate proactively to avoid the silence spiral.

Give what you want:

  • Show uncommon respect with common courtesy.
  • Appreciate performance as well as the person behind it.
  • Encourage others with three simple words.

Create connections:

  • Ritualize your team.
  • Be accessible to your team.
  • Be who you are and nobody else.

When you consistently sharpen your focus, build your competence and ignite your passion, you plant the seeds of victory.

Initially, you may not see tangible results, but rest assured growth is occurring under the surface. As you stick with it, momentum builds, creating a self-reinforcing cycle of victory.

Execute today and win tomorrow!