Despite best intentions, many of our dreams and goals go unfulfilled. One might think it’s because people are lazy, but I struggle with whether that’s really the case. I’ve known committed, hard-working people who have researched going to school at night - but never made it to class. I’ll wager that you’ve known someone who purchased a health club membership, only to find that they stopped attending after a few workout sessions. We’ve all promised ourselves to put a little extra cash aside towards our dream vacation but still haven’t left town.
Let’s be clear, the relationship between intention and implementation is often a weak one causing business productivity to suffer. So when you, as CEO or company leader, recognize a team disconnect between stated intent (priorities) and implementation or execution, then you need to make an adjustment to allow your team to focus and follow through on commitments. At Rhythm Systems, we call this an execution plan (intention), which is discussed and adjusted in weekly meetings (implementation).
One key mistake I see leaders and teams make is too many priorities - having multiple goals and trying to get them all done now (unfocused intention). This scene has been rewound and replayed over and over again as each leader attempts to convince me that they’re different, they just “get stuff done,” they have a team of doers, and having ten priorities for a 13-week quarter is not over commitment. They’re that good. Time and again it’s been proven that their intent is to be that good, yet their implementation does not match.
Like the words to your favorite song, the one listened to over and over, I’ve heard the above scenario time and again, and unlike my favorite movies, the good guys just don’t win. They don’t pull it out at the last minute with their heroic effort. They just aren’t that good. I’ve worked with clients in 16 countries in the last 4 years and not once has it been true that a person or team can advance 10 priorities to successful completion in 1 quarter. I must now believe it is a universal truth – like gravity. It works everywhere and in every country. When you allow anyone to dashboard and measure more than 5 priorities in a quarter and they fall short, you should look in the mirror because you are the weak link between intention and implementation. The failure to produce is not a team or team member problem, it’s a leadership problem.
The cure to this leadership problem is simple but not easy. It begins with your planning meetings. If you aren't having planning meetings, you’ll understand why your team energy isn’t aligned. Everyone is working hard but all that energy isn't focused. For those that are having planning meetings, you must learn some won’t power instead of will power. Make sure you or your outside facilitator force discussion on priorities that won't be pursued so there is more energy and focus on those that will be pursued. My recommendation is 3-5 priorities for any one quarter.
If you're looking for a way to further develop your leadership skills, take a look at the premier gathering of mid-market growth companies, our Breakthrough Conference, which happens in Charlotte, NC, October 19-20. At this conference, you and your team will learn to get more work done, grow as a team, and expand leadership capabilities. You'll gain ideas on leadership, planning, growth, and execution, and anyone who is a Rhythm user can attend sessions to increase user knowledge and gain certification. Attend the Gallup keynote and get ready to tighten the link between intention and implementation. I look forward to seeing you in the Fall!
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