top of page

9 Mistakes Leaders Make When Executing Strategy & How to Avoid Them (Part 2 of 2)

We wrote a two-part article all about mistakes leaders make when executing strategy, and how they can be avoided.

Part 2 (you're here)

This year, the 4th edition of the Cosmic Conference dives into the heart of strategy execution challenges and provides leaders with actionable solutions to transform their strategies into tangible reality. At the opening event of the Cosmic Conference, Cosmic Centaurs CEO & Founder Marilyn Zakhour talked in her keynote about leaders being the enablers of strategy execution in their company.

In the second part of this article, we list 5 of the 9 mistakes that leaders make when executing strategy and how you can avoid them.

5- Setting Too Many Goals

The Mistake: Drowning your team in a sea of goals can lead to confusion, burnout, and diluted efforts. It also reduces the opportunity for innovation and for new ideas to come in. This also could be a sign that your “new strategy” is not really a strategy but a series of goals. A real strategy involves a clear set of choices that prioritize what the company is going to do and what it’s not going to do.

The Solution: Clarify your priorities. Many strategies fail to get implemented because they do not represent a set of clear choices that will help the company reach the desired outcome. By doing so, teams can focus their efforts on well-defined, attainable objectives. Additionally, encourage team input into goal-setting. Providing your team with a chance to actively contribute to the business's overarching strategic direction fosters heightened engagement, a sense of involvement, and a desire to grow alongside the organization.

Our Approach: In our Blueprint for Growth workshop, we help leaders ideate and prioritize ways to overcome strategic challenges with their team. The workshop serves as a dynamic forum for brainstorming, encouraging diverse perspectives from participants at various organizational levels. Through guided activities, discussions, and hands-on exercises, we ensure that the strategy development process is inclusive and comprehensive.

6- Leaving It Up to Managers to Deliver, Without Championing the Process

The Mistake: Delegating the responsibility of strategy execution to managers without active involvement can result in a weak implementation.

The Solution: Act as the strategy champion, providing continuous support, resources, and removing roadblocks. When leaders actively participate, it sends a clear signal that the strategy is a shared responsibility, fostering a sense of ownership among the team. This does not mean that you need to do the work for them but you need to take time before handing off the task to understand the challenges that could occur.

Our Approach: A great advice in this HBR article is to embed the practice of coaching early in the process. Instead of providing answers, ask questions. The quality of their insights will be directly proportional to the quality of your questions. For instance, by asking, “How would our chief competitor respond to this strategy?”

At Cosmic Centaurs, we can be your thinking partner, spar ideas, and challenge your assumptions. Book a 1-on-1 consultation with us.

7- Exercising Narrow Leadership

The Mistake: Having a limited perspective that focuses on isolated aspects of an organization. In the narrow leadership mindset, leaders tend to believe that fixing one particular issue will solve all their problems.

The Solution: Be a holistic leader. Holistic leadership embraces the interconnectedness of an organization. It recognizes that every decision, every change, and every action has repercussions throughout the entire system. It acknowledges that leadership isn't about making isolated moves; it's about orchestrating and influencing collective behavior.

Our Approach: When we start any consulting mission with a company or a leader we do a full diagnosis over the 5 dimensions of our Omnichannel Organization Framework​​™️: People, Culture, Structure, Process, Systems. This allows us to have a holistic view of the challenges the company is facing in order to come up with a complete solution that touches upon different components of the organizational strategy.

8- Overlooking the importance off Clear Governance and Cadence

The Mistake: Not establishing clear governance and cadence around strategy execution leaves room for confusion, delays, and lack of accountability.

The Solution: Implement a robust Strategic Management Office (SMO) with clear governance structures and a well-defined cadence. This provides a framework for decision-making, ensures accountability, and maintains momentum throughout the execution process. Establishing a clear SMO enhances coordination, making it easier to adapt and steer the strategy toward success.

Our Approach: At Cosmic Centaurs, we can support you in setting up your Strategic Management Office. This includes defining the scope, structure, and goals of the SMO, and providing ongoing support during the implementation phase. Our expertise extends to defining team capabilities, streamlining processes, and selecting the most suitable software and tools to optimize your SMO's efficiency. You can learn more about our approach and services here.

9- Communicating poorly

The Mistake: Overlooking the importance of a well-thought and intentional communication around the strategy. In most companies we worked with we’ve seen that employees are confused and disconnected from the overarching goals because they were simply not communicated to them. During our Cosmic Conference talk about Leading the Strategy Process, Mihai Ionescu highlighted a crucial aspect of this, stating that the planned phase of strategy execution typically involves around 20% of employees, and the success of the unplanned phase heavily depends on effective communication.

The Solution: Be intentional about communications. Craft a clear and consistent narrative that emphasizes the 'why' behind the strategy. Utilize various channels to keep everyone informed and engaged. Transparent communication fosters trust and ensures everyone is on the same page.

Our Approach: After developing the strategy, we work closely with the executive team to develop a clear communication plan at all the organization levels. Learn more about our approach to internal communications here. You can also check our series of articles about the importance of internal communications in a company along with resources and tools to do it right.

Effective strategy execution is the foundation of organizational success, and leadership is the driving force behind it. By steering clear of these common mistakes, leaders can pave the way for a smoother execution process. Remember, it's not just about having a strategy—it's about how you lead your team to bring that strategy to life. Be engaged, set clear goals, embrace a holistic approach, communicate intentionally, and play the long game. In doing so, leaders can transform challenges into opportunities and guide their teams towards lasting success in strategy execution.

Attend our Cosmic Conference

Register here for the upcoming events of our 2023 #CosmicConference: Leading Organizations that Deliver.

We're here to help

If you're ready to steer your organization away from common pitfalls and toward strategic excellence, book a 1-on-1 consultation with us. Let's work together to tailor a strategy execution plan that aligns with your business goals.


bottom of page