Behaviors are key to strategic success

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It’s a flabbergasting experience to observe how companies top executives are, more often than we think, dealing with the strategic implementation. Pressured by the market expectations and their shareholders they seem obsessed by the financials. If financials are indeed a key element in the strategy preparation, the success of its implementation lies in other company’s areas that seem less obvious to grab for someone raised in business school and surrounded by experts and consultants with similar background. PowerPoints may be the perfect tool for communication to analysts but ultimately the actual realization of the multiple strategic projects and action plans is in the hand of the people participating to the enterprise. Like the shepherd gathering its flock to drive it into a specific narrow direction, there is more than theory and nice speech into it. Observe the shepherd. What you see is a set of well mastered skills. First of all, he relies on a well-trained shepherd dog who knows the basics of the drill and has learned from him the right behaviors. Second its not only appropriate communication but obvious behaviors understood by the flock and translated by them into actions. It’s difficult at the beginning, the shepherd needs to call for action, to communicate by his tone the urgency of the move. There is some confusion at first then, when the flock is on the alert and listening, the shepherd starts to act and behave in ways that show the direction and the intent, moving in the distance to manoeuver with a plain view of what’s happening in the flock and in the surroundings. His benevolent attitude attracts the attention (not the fear) of the dog and the flock that get organized while moving. Additional leadership suddenly emerges from a dominant member of the group who sets the direction to the main crowd of followers until they all reach the sheep pen after some additional adjustments done by the shepherd. What does this teach us? Don’t get blocked by the comparison of the company associates to a flock of sheep. It’s an image. In the real life with human beings it’s even more difficult because they are smart and questioning the purpose and directions. However, we can learn from this experience that in fact it’s actual behaviors that create organizational alignment not values. Who cares if the shepherd is result oriented or respectful of the sheep to achieve what he’s doing? What’s important for the achievement is the embodiment of behaviors and gestures that can be understood and bought by the followers. The leader needs to act in a way that is accepted by her “customers”, the managers and the people around her that need to be convinced enough to get on board and engage into action. Organizational alignment and cooperation comes from leadership behaviors modeled first by the top management, deployed appropriately by trained managers and then diffused in the entire organization. Among those behaviors some can be underlined:

  • Benevolence: Adopting a benevolent attitude to get trust and not fear
  • Communication: Delivering a clear message on urgency and direction
  • Walk the talk: Acting in a way that gets the buy-in by the followers
  • Subsidiarity: Maintaining distance with the tactical level to keep an eye on the big picture
  • Delegation: Relying on internal relays trusted by the crowd
  • Agility: Adjusting to unforeseen events during the implementation phase

At Enaxion we are helping our client to define appropriate leadership behaviors to get organizational alignment around the strategy. If you want to know more contact us. http://www.enaxion.fr

 

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