4 Disciplines of Execution
In every business, strategy is vital for success. It charts the course and sets the direction. But, every strategist knows that so often strategic goals never take off because they are drowned by all of the other competing interests. The daily activities of the organization starve the strategic goal. In The 4 Disciplines of Execution, a terrific new book, authors Chris McChesney, Sean Covey and Jim Huling explain how learning four disciplines can help produce breakthrough results.
And these same concepts can be applied to achieve your personal goals.
After reading the book, I followed up with author Jim Huling to delve into the material.
Jim, for those who aren’t familiar with the four disciplines, would you walk us through them quickly?
- Discipline 1: The discipline of focus. Extraordinary results can only be achieved when you are clear about what matters most. As simple as this principle may sound, few leaders ever master it. 4DX teaches why focus is so critical and how to overcome your biggest source of resistance.
- Discipline 2: The discipline of leverage. With unlimited time and resources, you could accomplish anything. Unfortunately, your challenge is usually the opposite: accomplish more with less. 4DX shows leaders where they can find real leverage and how to use it to produce extraordinary results.
- Discipline 3: The discipline of engagement. You have the authority to make things happen, but you want more than that – you want the performance that only passion and engagement can produce. 4DX enables leaders to rise from authority-driven compliance to passion-driven commitment in themselves and the people they lead.
- Discipline 4: The discipline of accountability. No matter how brilliant your plan or how important your goal, nothing will happen until you follow through with consistent action. 4DX brings the practices that drive accountability and follow through, despite a whirlwind of competing priorities.
“Life is no straight and easy corridor
along which we travel free and unhampered,
but a maze of passages,
through which we must seek our way,
at times, lost and confused,
now and again checked in a blind alley.
But always, if we have faith,
a door will open for us,
not perhaps one that we ourselves
would ever have thought of,
but one that will ultimately prove good for us.”
-Archibald Joseph Cronin
How often do you find yourself somewhere you never intended to be? When I’m in a blind alley, I choose faith over fear. If I search, I find the hidden door that changes everything. Though we may wish life were easy, we grow most in times of uncertainty and challenge. As Danny Cox says, “The best is yet to be!”
Photo by TheSeafarer on flickr.
Not too many weeks ago, I received an email from LinkedIn indicating someone had endorsed me for a skill. After deleting the message, I noticed another one appeared the following day. Taking the bait, I clicked, signed in, and saw the new Endorsements feature at work.
I thought about blogging about this new feature immediately. After thinking about it, I decided to wait a few weeks to see if my opinion changed.
The new feature has been widely criticized. And, at first, I was with the critics. Many people are complaining:
When I asked my own network for opinions, they were varied. Here are a few:
How It Works
If you are a student of leadership, you will likely know the name John Baldoni. His manybooks including Lead With Purpose, Lead Your Boss, How Great Leaders Get Great Results and Lead By Example all line the bookshelves of my office. If you somehow missed all of his books on leadership, you may have read his work in publications such as Inc.com, Fast Company, Forbes, CBSNews/MoneyWatch, Bloomberg/Businessweek, and Harvard Business Review, the Wall Street Journal or the Washington Post.
What I like most about John’s work is that it is practical. I can put his advice to use immediately. His latest book is The Leader’s Pocket Guide: 101 Indispensable Tools, Tips, and Techniques for Any Situation.
John, this pocket guide seems to distill so much of your work in bite-sized tips. What motivated you to write this pocket guide?
This book is the result of my work with executives I have coached over the past decade or so. As I say in the dedication to the book, my impact on them has been small but their impact on me has been large.
You start the book with self-leadership, then move to working with colleagues and finally an entire organization. Why is self-leadership always the starting point?
One cannot lead others without leading oneself. So where does that begin? With self-awareness and self-understanding. So often I work with executives who are capable leaders and are giving to others but they end up shorting themselves. This section focuses on things to do to develop your critical thinking, awareness and presence. All are critical to leadership.
When I first became a CEO, I noticed something strange.
In a meeting, I was suddenly funnier. The slightest hint at humor could erupt the room into laughter. I was also smarter. And my arguments were more persuasive. Heads would bob up and down as I made a point.
Obviously my new title didn’t bestow some magical gift of brilliance. What it provided was positional power, and people were reacting to the position.
Immediately, I knew what happened. It took me longer to figure out what to do about it.
I’d seen this much earlier in my career when people would “parrot” the CEO. I call it the Parrot Principle. To get along and be accepted, some find it’s just easier to parrot the CEO than to think critically, to argue, or to be independent. Why rock the boat when you can just agree and repeat what you’re told?
The cause is usually fear. Fear of losing a job or of not being in the inner circle. It’s also a symptom of a culture needing change.
Because of a lack of self-confidence, a fear of job loss, or an extreme need for acceptance, it is easier to agree with the boss than to advance a different point of view.
The result is usually what I call a “pocket veto” where people nod in a meeting, then go outside and talk about what they really believe. It’s bad for everyone. The company is not served well. The CEO may not even realize what’s happening. And the parrot is building distrust throughout the organization.
It’s not just the new CEO who faces this problem. It’s almost any new position of power. If others are dependent on you, you can be vulnerable to the Parrot Principle.
So what can you do about it?