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Strategy and people - the leader's 4 jobs

I often say that ‘Good strategy is making a choice and meaning it‘. As a CEO, I only did 4 things:
  • Lead the development and execution of our strategy.
  • Sell, communicate and report on the strategy and its progress.
  • Build and lead the team to implement the strategy.
  • Invest in the processes and projects to execute the strategy.
Everything else is an outcome of those four tasks, whether it’s raising capital. developing and delivering a product, building a brand, reaching and serving customers, anything. The communication, the team and the processes must be consistent internally and externally with the strategy and whatever it is you offer the market.

Your strategy will define not only what products you will offer to which customers, but also how and why you do things and, importantly, how and why you won’t do things. You need a clear vision of your desired organisational ethos, values, modus operandi and style.

Sometimes that means changing an organisation in very drastic ways, sometimes it means changing one or two key individuals. Sometimes you do things quickly, sometimes gradually, but if change is needed, you’d better be doing it. And when you make a mistake in your people choices, fix it - decently, fairly and having done what you can to help.

For new businesses, of course, you have the luxury of starting as you mean to go on. Rod Drury told me that when he first started to think about his next venture, he knew exactly what kind of team and organisational culture he wanted. After all, he’d plenty of past experience to learn from. He’ll undoubtedly still make some mistakes - we all do - but hopefully those will be correctable through small rather than massive change.

First posted 21 June 2007