How to Shape a Culture of Strategy Execution Excellence

How to Shape a Culture of Strategy Execution Excellence
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Shaping a Culture of Strategy Execution Excellence
Our leadership simulation assessment data tells us that top leaders cultivate a culture of strategy execution excellence by ensuring that workplace culture harmoniously aligns with key strategic objectives. Why? Because they know that strategies must go through people and culture to be successfully executed.

Top leaders foster an environment where the strategy (the WHAT) and culture (the HOW) are deeply ingrained into the way people think, behave, and act.

If you or your team are struggling to accelerate strategic priorities or match a strategic shift, this article is for you.

Corporate Culture Research
Corporate culture matters.  Our organizational alignment research found that culture and strategy alignment accounts for 71% of the difference between high and low performing companies in terms of revenue, profits, customer satisfaction and retention, leadership effectiveness, and employee engagement.  High performing cultures successfully leverage how work gets done to achieve a clear strategic vision in a way that makes sense for the people AND the business.

How to Shape a Culture of Strategy Execution Excellence
Sadly, the Economist Intelligence Unit reports that 90% of businesses consistently fail to meet their business objectives. Here are three key steps to take to shape a culture of strategy execution excellence to get into the elite 10%.

  1. Understand Your Current Culture
    While leaders play a pivotal role in espousing the values that resonate with the strategy, our organizational culture assessment data continuously finds gaps between the culture desired by leaders and the lived experiences of employees. This cultural misalignment causes problems.

    The underlying assumptions, behaviors, and business practices should visibly support and accelerate strategic goals.

    For example, we have seen corporate strategies that require:

    — innovation, but people were afraid to take risks or share creative ideas
    — cross-functional cooperation, but silo-based performance was rewarded
    customer-centricity, but meeting internal quarterly targets came first
    — speed, but internal processes and approvals were bureaucratic and cumbersome

    Have you taken the time to truly understand if your current culture is helping or hindering your strategy?

  2. Ensure Leaders Model the Way
    Cultural and strategic role modeling starts at the top. The importance of leadership in shaping and sustaining organizational culture is hard to overestimate. Leaders signal cultural and team norms through their own behaviors and actions.

    Leaders should not only clearly communicate the strategy but also embody it in their actions through:

    — consistent and transparent communication
    — strategically aligned decision making
    individual, team, and organizational accountability

    Shaping a culture of strategy execution requires a consistent culture of accountability.  Regular culture assessments should be used to gauge how well culture aligns with the strategy, allowing for timely interventions.

    Are your leaders adept at sensing the cultural misalignments and swiftly making the necessary adjustments?

  3. Embed Strategy in Daily Operations
    Successful strategy implementation is the result of thousands of daily individual, team, and organizational decisions that are aligned with where you want to go. A culture of strategy execution excellence is not an abstract concept but a workplace reality. It involves incorporating strategic intent into the key business practices, projects, and decisions on a daily basis.

    Are you aligning cultural motivators, organizational structures, and decision making processes with where you want to go?

The Bottom Line
Cultivating a culture that fuels strategic success requires a meaningful commitment to embody strategic priorities and values in the way everyone thinks, behaves, and acts. To be aligned, your organizational culture should be seen, felt, and heard in day-to-day actions.

To learn more about how to cultivate a culture of strategy execution excellence, download The 3 Levels of Culture Required for Strategic Alignment

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