Who is the Chief Execution Officer?

 One would think the answer to this question should be fairly simple. However, the sad reality is that most organizations really do not understand what the title and responsibilities of Chief Execution Officer involves. In our experience, the problem stems from the fact that most Chief Executive Officers and leadership teams don’t have the skills required, the processes in place, nor the understanding of the effort necessary to methodically translate strategy into execution to get the result they want.

Stephen Covey attributes this failure to the fact that business schools do not teach strategy execution. Business schools teach all aspects of strategic planning, but there are no courses about how to execute strategy. Perhaps this is one reason why 70% to 80% of businesses fail to fully implement their strategy.

To address this problem, we need to instill on our current and future leaders that translating strategy to the types of activities that will achieve the corporation’s vision is the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer and his leadership team.

A Harvard Business Review Blog recently attempted to tackle this issue in an article entitled, “How Smart Leaders Translate Strategy into Execution.” In a study based on over 150 case studies, researchers identified three steps that led to CEOs successfully transitioning their style of management to become successful Chief Execution Officers.

Lead the Leadership Team: Forming a leadership team that has completely bought into the strategy is the most important step. The HBR study also found that, “Consensus on and commitment to the strategy provides a litmus test for determining who on the leadership team should stay and who should go.” These are tough decisions, but essential. We call this the “rule of thirds.” One third of the leadership team will be committed to the strategy, one third will be against it (preferring the status quo), and one third will wait to see who wins. Don’t allow the status quo to win.

Share the Story: Too often the Chief Executive Officer and his leadership team keep the strategy a closely held secret. The successful Chief Execution Officers understand that even people who perform non-strategic roles in the company should be told the strategy story so that they become engaged and find ways to contribute to the success of the strategy.

Provide A System of Strategic Performance Feedback: People like to see the results of their efforts. They like to see the improved performance, and that the company is achieving its strategic plan goals. HBR found that, “People like to be able to see their individual roles in making a difference.” An important responsibility of the Chief Execution Officers is to focus the organization on a few key strategic measures and to keep these measures in front of everyone.

There is so much more to successfully translate strategy to execution. We have highlighted only three important steps to become a successful Chief Execution Officer. Albu Consulting is dedicated to helping our clients translate their strategies to action so that they achieve all their goals, and realize the full