CEObuilder coaches begin by asking why your company exists; that is, why you are in business. This central value proposition, expressed in compelling terms that resonate with both your customers and employees, is critical. That said, it represents only the base camp for your climb as a successful business leader.
From the definition of your company why you must move to the company how: the development of strategies relevant to your chosen value proposition. These strategies will ideally emerge from intensive, collaborative discussions among your executive team.
These deliberations should not be short-changed, nor should they be dominated by the founder, owner or CEO. Your goal here is not to hurry to a strategic to-do list, nor is it to gain a rubber-stamp approval from a team of “yes-men.” Instead, it is to sow the seeds of a thorough and unshakable commitment.
What constitutes the rock-solid commitment required to implement the strategies chosen? Such steadfastness is invariably a function of the perceived costs and benefits of each strategic initiative.
Where benefits are firmly expected to exceed anticipated costs, initial commitment is nearly always high. However, too often this initial enthusiasm proves to be a mirage. Real costs emerge beyond expectations, and benefits fall short of the mark or are slow in coming. When this happens, commitment wanes.
To avoid this too-common occurrence, CEObuilder coaches discourage giving lip service to the exercise of defining expected benefits and costs. They will often work in a facilitative manner with CEOs and their executive teams to define the desired outcomes of each strategy, as well as the benefits associated with those outcomes. Further, they will demand the intellectual rigor of defining the costs that are likely to be associated with each initiative. In this regard, they resist the notion that costs are always dollar-denominated.
The fact is, more strategies fail because of mental and emotional costs than those that accountants measure. Key questions here will address trade-offs in terms of company culture and the impact on other strategies, as well as the likely effect on the families and outside interests of employees.
One of the most common and insidious commitment-killers is the failure to properly understand the time investment required to implement a new strategy. This manifests itself in good intentions that morph into excuses such as, “By the time I do everything that is urgent and important in my job, I just don’t have the time to do what is expected regarding the new strategy.”
When this type of response emerges, the costs associated with the time commitment were not properly assessed before moving to implementation. Generally, the best solution to this problem is to carve out a specific chunk of time where the key employees responsible for new-strategy implementation can focus 100 percent of their time and attention on the chosen strategy.
CEObuilder coaches recognize the critical importance of commitment to the why (value proposition) and the how (strategies). Without the rock-solid commitment of executives and employees, these foundational concepts are only dreams. Real leadership is a function of facilitating the understanding of the cost of commitment—and then dedicating oneself and the team to paying those costs.