The age-old adage, “Jack/Jill of all trades, master of none,” sometimes feels unnervingly relevant to business leadership. With the growing complexity of businesses today, excelling in both strategy and execution can feel like a Herculean task. A 2013 survey of nearly 700 executives across diverse industries underscored this challenge. The results? Only 16% were rated very effective at either strategy or execution, with a mere 8% excelling in both.
The Rare Gem: Leaders Who Excel at Both: For the elite 8% who shine in both strategy and execution, the rewards are substantial – from enhanced company trust to improved bottom lines. However, being part of this group often means navigating the tightrope of vision and practicality. It begs the question, is it realistic for every leader to strive for mastery in both?
The Power of Self-Awareness. Drop the Ego: One of the hallmarks of great leadership is self-awareness. Recognizing where your strengths lie and where you might need support is crucial. It’s not about doing everything yourself; it’s about ensuring everything gets done, and done well. Surrounding oneself with a team that complements a leader’s strengths and shores up their weaknesses can be the game-changer.
Internal vs. External Support: Making the Right Choice: Every organization presents its unique set of challenges and opportunities. When building a complimentary team there are two approaches to consider.
- Leaning on Internal Staff:
Pros: There’s undeniable value in the familiarity with day to day company culture and relationships, quicker communication channels, and built trust.
Cons: There might be gaps in expertise, or at times, an internal team might be too close to a project to view it objectively.
2. Seeking External Teams or Consultants:
Pros: External teams bring specialized expertise, a fresh pair of eyes, and the scalability to tackle projects of varying sizes.
Cons: There’s the potential hurdle of onboarding, and the initial phase of aligning with company nuances.
The leadership landscape is compellingly clear: with only an 8% probability of mastering both strategy and execution, the odds are stacked against most of us. Rather than striving to be the exception, a more pragmatic approach might be to invest in building robust teams that complement our strengths. In the dance between strategy and execution, perhaps the most strategic move is knowing when to lead and when to lean on others. By embracing collaboration and empowering those around us, we pave the way for collective success, tapping into the full potential of our organizations.