So Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan, in the book, Execution, did a nice job a few years back helping senior leaders understand that execution of strategy is not just up to mid and front line leaders. Execution of the work is also a part of the senior leader’s role.

With all a senior leader has to do, what specific ways can he or she be involved in the daily execution of the organization? Over the next few postings, I am going to post an email I sent a CEO I’m coaching about one way to influence strategic execution. Hopefully, it will provide one very concrete way senior leaders can be directly involved in execution. So here’s the first part:

As I was mentioning to you, one of your roles in the daily execution (work) of your organization is what I will call, selective observation, articulation and implementation.

So, imagine your organization as a painting on your wall. You look at the painting and ask this question: where should I go spend some time in the painting?

You need to regularly zoom in to a specific part of the painting for a number of reasons:

1) To stay informed on what the heck is going on (in that area)
2) To encourage the people in that part of the painting
3) To ASK QUESTIONS (questions that help you learn more and help the employees think differently about their world)
4) To see (notice people, process and systemic issues)
5) To make connections for employees that help them see how their role connects to the larger organizational mission
6) To convey importance, all kinds of importance about all kinds of things
7) To gather critical data for the leaders of that area from your perspective

OK, after your 30 minutes or so in the painting you emerge out with a better sense of how it’s going there, what victories are occurring, what problems need fixing, what issues are brewing that need attention and so on.

Then, you sit for 30 minutes with the leader who oversees that area –and maybe another key leader in that area -and you have a “chat.” In that chat, you say to the leader(s)

1) Here’s what I saw
2) Here’s what I love
3) Here’s an opportunity or two
4) Here’s a concern I want corrected and reported back to me
5) Here’s an area of development for you that will help your team
6) Here I am, do you have any questions

Now, you mentioned to me at our last meeting that you had some concerns about doing this. Unfortunately we ran out of time before I could address them. I don’t know exactly what your concern is, but here are a few I bump into with CEO’s:


Stay tuned part two is coming….