At a conference recently I was asked a really good question – what are the most common pitfalls for any Chief Executive?
It’s a great question and one that continued to occupy my mind long after the conference was finished!
Obviously, one is influenced by your most recent experiences as they are the ones that come to mind most readily, and I was interested to reflect upon my answer with the benefit of having some more time to consider. Having had the time would I change my answer? The answer is – No!
So, how did I reply?
My answer was, and is, that common pitfalls for Chief Executives are:
Lack of clarity
Lack of alignment
Lack of communication.
What is really interesting is that all three are interconnected – where you have a lack of clarity, you have a lack of alignment and this is nearly always down to lack of communication.
When working with top teams I do an exercise with the team and ask them to write down on a large post it what are the 4 key elements of their strategy and then we put them all on the wall and check the answers.
The result for the management team, and the Chief Executive, is consistently the same – they are consistently different!
This is not because they have not heard it before – it is their recall is different.
They were most likely the people who put the strategy together in the first place, but once it was completed it was filed under “done and dusted”
There was no real effort at taking the strategy and ensuring that everyone was crystal clear how that strategy manifested itself in how we do business day to day.
You should try this exercise with your own team – be prepared for a shock!
It is worth considering that if there is such lack of clarity at the top team, then what chance has the strategy of being communicated to the rest of the organization?
The consequence of lack of clarity is that there can only be a lack of alignment – how can it be different?
If we are not clear about the banner we are walking behind, and the direction that it is taking us, then how can we all be pointed in the same direction?
A major consequence of lack of alignment is the “politicking” that large organizations are so good at, and herein lies one of the great diseases of any business.
But even if we are the exception, and we do not tolerate politics, a lack of alignment slows down progress and the business is very far from being a well oiled machine.
Lack of clarity and lack of alignment are compounded by lack of communication, and in some cases is the root cause.
We often are too busy to communicate, there is too much to be done and we just do not have the time!
These are just feeble excuses for not doing your job as Chief Executive – you can never communicate too much.
So, to avoid these pitfalls – ensure there is clarity, leading to proper alignment and don’t stop communicating over and over!
How do you measure up against these pitfalls? Get in touch and let us know.
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To continued success!