This is thesecond in a series of articles examining thediscipline of execution in business:Bridge the Execution Gap: Leadership-Culture-Process, the 3 Pillars that Support Execution, and Will Take Your Practice From Business Plan to RESULTS!
By Arthur Geary
As practice CEO, you can close the gap between business plan and execution by understanding the leadership qualities you need to possess, and how to use that leadership to guide your practice.
Leadership Skills, NOT Technical Skills, Most Important
True leadership requires passion, vision, courage, self-discipline, fortitude, self-awareness, authenticity and a willingness to serve those you lead. Good leadership is a critical component of successful execution. Notethat I did not list specific technical skills or educational background. Leaders accept their need to, and are adept at, working through others. Therefore, specific skills, although helpful in some situations, are not prerequisites for success as a leader. Today, specific knowledge, background or skills can be easily acquired, hired or rented.
Leadership Soft Skills Most Important
More than hard skills, such as understanding of computer systems or the intricacies of insurance reimbursement, business leadership benefits from the right mix of emotion, character, discipline and sense of service.
Passion: A driving desire for excellence in your chosen endeavor. When you are passionate as a leader, you live the details. You are immersed in the business, its operations, its people and its customers/patients.
Vision: A clear picture of where you want the business to go, as well asthe organization and people necessary to get there. You also need to identify the core values that will guide you in your execution of plans. That clear vision combined with identification of core values will allow you to set goals and priorities for the practice.
Courage: The strength of character to set ambitious goals, chart new courses in the event of market or competitive changes, project confidence during challenging times even if the outcome is unknown andmake unpopular decisions when necessary.
Self-Discipline: Great leaders exemplify the values and standards they expect of those they lead. They do so because those values and standards are part of the fabric of who they are personally, and not just when they are in the office. Staff and colleagues will not follow a leader with the attitude of “do as I say, not as I do.”
Fortitude: The emotional resilience required to be open and honest with people and the organization, whether it is related to business realities, competing interests, opposing points of view, personality types or candid assessments.
Self-Awareness: Strong leaders know their own strengths and weaknesses. No one excels at every aspect of running a business. Self-aware leaders rely on their strengths; accept their weaknesses as areas needing improvement; and surround themselves with people who are strong where they are weak. Being self-aware, they also understand that they don’t have a monopoly on the best ideas or solutions. This level of self-awareness relieves the stress many new leaders feel when they think they are supposed to have all the answers. It also leads to an important component of execution–a leader that encourages new ideas and open dialogue. Self-aware leaders are among the most confident and most effective.
Authenticity: Related to self-discipline, your values and beliefs should be so ingrained at yourcore that there is no significant difference betweenyour public and private personas. Thereshould beno mask whenyou come to the office.Your actions shouldmatchyour words becauseyou live a principled life based on one set of values and beliefs. Authenticity builds trust and commitment, and trust and commitment, in turn,drive execution.
Service: Many young leaders, or those who aspire to leadership positions, focus on theperks of the job. The best leaders understand that to lead is to serve those you lead. Anyone can set goals or strategy and tell the staff they must achieve them. What talent does that require? Leaders with all the characteristics outlined here understand that you only earn the right to lead ifwhen you set goals, youensure the goals or strategy are reasonably attainable; that the necessary resources are available and committed; and the necessary personnel and training are provided. Commitment to service is the essence of great leadership, and a burden few fully embrace.
Execution does not occur naturally in business, it requires leadership. The likelihood of your business plans getting put into action will rise or fall in direct proportion to the quality of leadership provided.
By evaluating how you operate as a practice CEO, you can improve not only your performance, but that of your staff, and the practice as a whole. The following checklist will help you better understand your leadership style.
Rate yourself on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 the strongest and1 theweakestregarding the following leadership characteristics.
Passion12 3 4 5
Vision1 2 3 4 5
Courage1 2 3 4 5
Self-Discipline1 2 3 4 5
Fortitude 1 2 3 4 5
Self-Awareness 1 2 3 4 5
Authenticity1 2 3 4 5
Service1 2 3 4 5
*A score of less than 4 on any of the leadership traits listed above, indicates an area for improvement.
The next article will address strategies related to the third leadershippillar, culture. Click here to read the previous article, “Close the Execution Gap: Top 4 Roadblocks to Execution of Business Plans.”
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Arthur Geary, founder and CEO of Execution in Business, Inc.,is a senior executive and leader with a broad range of experience from start-up to Fortune 500 companies in eyecare, insurance, finance and securities, medical software and commercial construction. To contact him: firstname.lastname@example.org.