3 Proven Leadership Tips to Operationalize Your Strategy

3 Proven Leadership Tips to Operationalize Your Strategy
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Is Your Strategy Set Up to Be Successfully Executed?
Are you ready to operationalize your strategy?  A strategy without people consistently implementing it together is useless. And yet IBM found that less than 1 out of 10 strategies are effectively executed.

In most instances, strategy retreats were held and strategic plans were in place, but strategy implementation was poor.  If you cannot operationalize your strategy, your thoughtful plans and exciting ideas in the board room will not translate into coordinated actions on the front lines.

We believe that it is the job of the executive team to not only create a clear and compelling strategy, but also to ensure that it gets implemented.

The Problem
Part of the problem is that, according to one survey, only 1 in 20 employees fully understand their company’s strategy.  Our own organizational alignment research found that employees’ level of strategic clarity is fifty percent less on average than that of the leadership team.  How then can we expect employees to commit to a strategic direction if they cannot fully articulate it?

We hear over and over again from leaders that their finely crafted strategic plan is not being implemented at the quality or strategic speed that they expect.  Digging deeper, we find that the strategy is not clear enough, not agreed to, not perceived to be equal to the challenge, or not supported by adequate resources to truly succeed.

What moves should a leader make to bring their strategy to life?

3 Proven Tips to Operationalize Your Strategy
We recommend three proven tips to operationalize your strategy and join the 10% elite of leaders who ARE able to successfully execute their strategy across their organizations:

  1. Actively Involve and Ruthlessly Clarify
    The ideal way to get employees both to understand and commit to the strategy is to get stakeholders actively involved in strategic planning from the beginning. If stakeholders are invited to help craft the strategy, those most responsible for executing the strategy will have a feeling of ownership.  Strategy execution will be far smoother with high levels of involvement and participation.

    If active employee participation does not fit your workplace culture, you must make sure that the strategy is completely understood on all levels of the company.  It’s not just a matter of employees being able to “parrot” back the plan; they should be fully aware of how they will directly contribute to the implementation and why it is important.

    In addition to communicating the strategy often and in open discussions, add a transparent tracking component so everyone knows you will be measuring and sharing progress toward your goals..

  1. Allow Some Autonomy
    It is certainly your role as a leader to establish what you are trying to achieve. But give your employees some leeway in how they go about reaching key strategic targets.  This autonomy gives workers an opportunity to think through the best way to proceed.

    Most often middle management and employees devise simpler and more efficient approaches than you would have suggested because they are the frontline experts.  Do not let their perspectives go to waste.

  2. Keep Your Values Front and Center
    The best companies depend upon their corporate values and strategic priorities to help guide decision making. When employees face a difficult decision, they should be able to rely on what the values and strategies tell them to do.

    Beyond staying within ethical guidelines, values can help balance the interests of the business vis-à-vis the interests of employees, customers, and other stakeholders.

The Bottom Line
Be open to active employee involvement as you create your strategy AND as you implement it.  The more leaders pay attention to what employees are thinking, the closer you will be to a strategy that can be achieved in your unique culture.

To learn more about how to operationalize your strategy, download 3 Big Mistakes to Avoid When Cascading Your Corporate Strategy

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