INsight/ Why Strategies Fail


Manila, 6 December 2017 — Business strategies fail when executives stick to the ways that brought them success in the past. To transform your business, you need to expand your repertoire of leadership roles.

Problems Executives Face

Ask executives what they are most concerned about in transforming their business today, and their answer is likely to include these three challenges:

1.     Meeting shareholder expectations for higher revenue targets.

2.     Staying ahead in innovation while keeping control of operations, and

3.     Finding the right talent to maintain quality and expand the business.

Probe a bit deeper and you will hear some of the problems and risks that are part and parcel of leading change in business in today’s disruptive environment. For example:

·      How do you deal with growing complexity and keep the procedures simple?

·      How to balance short-term agility and long-term strategy in conditions of uncertainty?

·      How to embrace sustainability and diversity while keeping business results on track?

·      How do you change the business culture and not lose control of operations?

·      How to focus on quality and integrity when staff is overwhelmed with information?

Does it sound like some of the challenges you are coping with in your business?

Where to Focus First

With all these problems to deal with, it comes as no surprise that company bookshelves today are full of business strategies that have failed. Trusted solutions that worked in the past are no longer delivering the results that meet the shareholder expectations today.

The stakes are very high for today’s executives, who also have to worry about fierce competition impacted by continued globalization, with rapidly advancing information technologies that both enable and disrupt change, and with a variety of new risks including cybersecurity.

In this high-pressure arena of leading business changes, it matters more than ever before where you choose to focus your time and attention.  

The wisdom of American celebrity CEO Jack Welch comes to mind, with his assertion that strategy, execution, and people must go together. In terms of choices to make, his advice was to start with getting the people right.

“If you don’t get the people right, the strategy doesn’t matter, and if you don’t get the people right, you won’t get the execution, so you’re dead," said Welch.

Investing in people is central to getting the right strategy and to implement it successfully with agility. At all levels of the business, people matter, implementation matters, and process matters.

Hard and soft skills are both essential, yet it is important to keep in mind that “hard skills make products, and soft skills lead change.” So if change is what you’re after, make sure you get the people right.

The good news is that when you invest in the soft skills of your staff now—starting with your management team—they can all become leaders of change, so that the lifetime of that investment is much longer than the strategies that you are currently implementing.

After your managers and staff learn to use soft skills more effectively to make changes happen in the implementation of your business strategy, they will still be using those leadership skills long after your current business strategy has expired.

Expanding Your Leadership Roles

Of course, for such change to work, it has to start with you and your management team, to show the right example. So what leadership roles do you need to play to transform your business?

Given the diversity of challenges you are dealing with on a day-to-day basis, the simple answer is that sticking to one role or style of leadership is not going to be effective for where you want to go.

In the words of leadership coach Marshall Goldsmith, what got you here won’t get you there! If you stick to how you were successful in the past, you’re doing yourself and your business a disservice.

Regardless of what your preferred leadership role is, based on the success you had with it in the past, you will need to expand your repertoire if you want to succeed in taking your business to the next level. Yesterday’s success means little for solving tomorrow’s problems.

Let’s compare it to winning an Oscar for doing your best work. In the movie industry, you might win an Oscar when you consistently hone your skills in playing one type of role.

In business you need to do better. We can compare the challenge to winning several Oscars for learning to excel in different leadership roles that your business needs.

Are you up for that challenge?

It is certainly possible to succeed again when you commit yourself to the challenge, and if you are prepared to listen, unlearn, and then learn anew. And, depending on your personality profile, you will find that some new roles are easier for you to master than others.

There is more good news. Aside from working with a coach, there will be people around you in your business who can help by giving you feedback on how you’re doing in your challenge, and by suggesting how you might improve in your mastery of each leadership role.

From my experience, when you start expanding your repertoire to learn and model the extra leadership roles that you need to make a difference in your business transformation, you will find that you can gain the enthusiastic support of staff who will want to follow where you are leading.

So what does it involve?

Lead In All Colors

Leaders who work with me will set out to master seven leadership roles in their challenge, including some that they are already good or proficient at.  For the sake of simplicity, we give them colors, from purple to red, blue, orange, green, yellow and turquoise.

LIAC Model 6 Dec 2017 v1.jpg

Each of these colors represents a distinctly different leadership role that you can learn to master in transforming your business.

Are you interested to go for seven leadership Oscars?

Then let's set up a call so we can talk about what it takes and how you can benefit from organizing a Lead In All Colors program for you and your management team in your business.

Summing up, for your business transformation to succeed, you will need to work on the people to transform first, and that starts with you and your management team leading and modeling the way. 

When you 'get the people right' as Jack Welch recommended, and you start to excel in the leadership roles that your business needs—including some new ones you haven't mastered yet—then your business strategy will have a good chance of succeeding. So you can meet the shareholder expectations in these challenging times.

I look forward to working with you as you transform your business.  

If you don’t get the people right, the strategy doesn’t matter, and if you don’t get the people right, you won’t get the execution, so you’re dead.
— Jack Welch