I was speaking at Owens-Corning the other day about the reason for strategies. Companies create strategies so they can continue to grow. And to grow companies and the people in them, there are six components:
- Embrace Reality. In more than 20 years in business consulting, we’ve learned that change and growth can occur naturally if you have an honest assessment of where you are and a clear picture of where you want to go. This sounds simple, but it’s rare. Honesty is both more difficult and more valuable. Convert the sting of reality to an ally, and see it as a fuel for change.
- Create a Common Mental Model. Leaders need to be clear and aligned on the strategies they create. Shared meaning is more important than familiar words or schematics. Common mental models help us make sure that what we’re trying to create that means the same thing to everyone.
- Own the Whole Before The Separate Pieces. People get to be leaders by taking care of their piece of the puzzle. But to execute strategy, you have to be an owner of the whole business strategy first. You will have to give up something before you get anything back.
- Work “On the Business” vs. “In the Business.” One commonly reoccurring insight we see is that when “on the business” (the day-to-day) becomes uncomfortable, leaders flee that discomfort for “in the business” activities (e.g., selling) that they have mastered and that make them feel good. Don’t do this.
- Make it Personal. Your behaviors become the pace car for growth. Be the change you want to see in others. To make it real for your people, make it real for yourself. This requires embracing discomfort and remembering that all change means beginning again.
- Get Everyone Into the Game. It’s no fun to sit on the bench. Make sure that all your people understand your strategy and how each one of them contributes to its success. Until every person is secure in the knowledge that this company is going somewhere and they are helping to drive that vehicle to success, you won’t execute even the most elegant strategy.
A leader’s primary job in helping a company to grow is to change the game to one where you win only through the wins of your people. You may have to give up some control and rethink your purpose in your company. So to be that change you expect in others, go first faster, be more vulnerable, and make everything way more personal.