There has been much ‘to do’ about the similarities and differences between leadership and management with the leader usually being more senior to the manager. Setting the strategy is often considered the job of the most senior leaders while implementing the tactics is for junior staff workers. This one belief has resulted in massive ineffectiveness in accomplishing worthy outcomes.
Leadership experts Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan wrote an entire book around this issue because they saw it as a major business and leadership problem.
Here is the fundamental problem: people think of execution as the tactical side of business, something leaders delegate while they focus on the perceived “bigger” issues. This idea is completely wrong. Execution is not just tactics—it is a discipline and a system. It has to be built into a company’s strategy, its goals, and its culture. And the leader of the organization must be deeply engaged in it. He cannot delegate its substance. (Execution, p. 6)
Joseph suggested a strategic plan to Pharaoh in response to the dream of impending extreme famine following a time of abundance (Gen 41:33-36). Pharaoh was wise enough to realize that without someone skilled in execution the plan would never work. Consider these ways that Joseph led both strategically and tactically in Genesis 41-50.
|Ensure food for people to survive the famine||Gathering, storing, distributing food|
|Honor Pharaoh as supreme ruler||Treat people with respect; respond to needs|
|Establish international credibility||Sell food without harm to Egyptians|
|Bring spiritual blessing to Egypt||Model godliness and sincerity|
|Ensure survival of Israel||Sibling transformation; dwelling place|
What is the result when a leader engages in the strategy process but delegates the tactics? Unless those to whom the strategy has been delegated are skilled at executing the tactics, the strategy will never be fully realized. How can a leader wisely ensure that the strategy is accomplished? Here are a few suggestions:
- Engage those tasked to execute the strategy in the strategic thinking process.
- Agree upon clear outcomes that are as measurable as possible.
- Establish milestones for progress to be assessed and adjusted as needed.
- Ensure that the resources needed to accomplish the outcomes are provided.
- Provide the encouragement and prayer that will enable the satisfaction of success.
What is your practice as a leader in both strategy and tactics? How committed are you to provide the leadership needed to ensure that the tactics actually accomplish the strategy? Where could you grow in your understanding and skill in these areas? Your Vision, Mission, and Calling deserve your attention to execution of the tactics.
Next Blog: Impeccable stewardship.