How to Be Unpopular During Strategic Plan Execution

executionCreating a strategic plan is such an accomplishment. After all, you spend tons of time, energy, and money going through the planning process. However, the work has just begun. Now, as the rubber meets the road, things can easily fall apart. Many employees will resist changing what they have always done. Yet, others will be excited at the prospect of going in a different direction. If, as part of your strategic plan, you don’t have a specific plan to execute your strategy, you will be a very unpopular leader.

Here are 10 surefire ways to become that unpopular leader:

1. Never mention your big-picture vision.

Employees need to be reminded of the big picture your company is working towards. However, some leaders rarely or never refer back to that vision during the execution of the strategic plan because they get so focused on “doing” the plan. Realize that keeping that vision fresh in people’s minds helps guide them through the excitement and the drudgery of change.

2. Attempt to eat the elephant all at once.

One way to decrease the awkwardness and the anxiety of any change is to break the overall plan down into manageable pieces. If you do not look for quick wins that are easy and map out milestones to focus on along the way, you are likely to overwhelm employees who will give up before they even start.

3. Discount stakeholder interests

Can you believe that not everyone is going to be psyched about any new direction mapped out by your strategic plan? You’ll be extremely unpopular if you fail to leverage the enthusiasm and support of those who are on board. And you’ll be “toast” if you fail to influence the “resistors” or neutralize those who are outright antagonistic.

4. Ignore potential risks.

Hopefully all will go well with your new strategy; however, you’ll lose support if you don’t plan for the worst in at least some respects.

5. Overlook current company processes, structures, and systems that get in the way.

Ever been subject to a process or system within a company that seemed to be at odds with what the company said was important? If you change your strategy, your employees will loathe you if you don’t also update and align the way things work.

6. Remain silent and aloof.

The most common way to be unpopular while executing your strategic plan is to rarely if ever speak of it. Employees get disgruntled without almost constant references to why, what, who, and how things are proceeding.

7. Fumble new insights and ideas along the way.

If you don’t have a way to capture new insights as you go along, your employees will lose respect for you and what you’re trying to accomplish. Without a way to vet and champion unanticipated new ideas, you will miss out on new innovations that could make you a hero.

8. Allow employees to dodge adopting new conduct and attitudes.

You will surely become unpopular if you don’t require everyone (including yourself) to adjust your thinking and conduct to support your strategic plan. When conduct and attitudes don’t align with new goals, old patterns will sabotage what you’re trying to achieve.

9. Fail to resolve setbacks and remove obstacles.

Your popularity will take a nose dive if you fail to follow up on setbacks and obstacles. Tracking and tending to these issues is critical.

10. Forego recognizing and celebrating achievements.

Employees feel dejected if you forget to acknowledge the attainment of milestones or even the final goal before jumping immediately into the next phase or initiative. Don’t be the leader who forgets to acknowledge and celebrate success and achievement throughout the journey.


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5 Leadership Qualities Critical to Achieving Company Goals

goal, executionWouldn’t it be great if you could simply share your latest company goals with employees and rest assured they would automatically achieve them without further ado?

Most of the time that doesn’t happen, though. Yes, your leadership does come in handy. But you have to know what you must bring to the table to catalyze employees to achieve those company goals. In fact, you must draw on 5 qualities to move your company goals forward:

1. Clear Intention

Clear intention is the ability to hone in on what you are really seeking to accomplish. By doing so, you create an unambiguous target for your company to shoot for. You can use the SMART Goals technique or some other goal-setting methodology. In any case, it’s your job as leader to ensure the goal is distinctive and well-defined. This allows anyone to easily recognize when the goal has been achieved.

2. Clear Communication

Research shows that 60% of employees don’t know about their companies’ strategic plan, including current goals. To counter this, once a goal is set, it’s your leadership responsibility to ensure it is disseminated and discussed throughout the company, so everyone can contribute to achieving it. Goals don’t achieve themselves; employees must act to make them come to fruition. So, make sure all employees know current goals and progress made along the way. Additionally, work with department heads to translate company-wide goals into meaningful and related sub-goals for each company area.

3. Inclusion

The employees who do the work know a lot about what works and what doesn’t. That’s why it’s imperative to be inclusive. Inclusion means you readily and willingly tap a variety of perspectives regarding what it will take to achieve the goal, including the employees who perform the work. When you tap into the perspectives of direct reports, they can suggest which work activities to leverage to affect the desired goal outcomes.

4. Unwavering Focus

It is said, “What is expected must be inspected.” In other words, keep the goal and related activities in front of employees. Make sure you do so with your direct reports, so this focus cascades to the front lines in your area of responsibility. You might hold a short weekly meeting focused on goal-related work activities and projects to check progress. Regularly display and discuss graphs tracking progress of related activities, sub-goals, and the overall goal. Whatever you do, keep employees focused on what they must do to achieve the goal and the progress being made. This allows adjustments to be made timely, as needed.

5. Recognition & Appreciation

If you’re like me you are probably used to a “no news is good news” approach in life. What we’ve learned, however, is that acknowledgement and appreciation go a long way with employees. Remember to recognize and appreciate individual effort, contributions, and progress toward sub-goals and the overall goal to keep employees engaged in the effort. Employees need to know you see their efforts.

If you’re like most leaders, you are distracted by a thousand different things that vie for your attention. It’s good to remember the simple leadership qualities that you must demonstrate to achieve your company goals. An intentional, inclusive focus on your goals, bolstered by clear communication and recognition of effort and progress is the basic job of any leader.