Research has shown that only about 8% of company leaders excel at both strategy and execution. But more and more, we need leaders who can do both. Leaders who master both strategy and execution start by building a bold but executable strategy, addressing the questions “What are we great at?” and “What are we able to achieve?” rather than coming up with lofty plans and asking functional and business-unit teams to do their best to execute. Next, leaders must ensure that the company is investing behind the change, which means linking the budget closely to the strategy. Finally, leaders need to make sure the entire organization is motivated to go the journey. Great leaders know that success stems from specific skills that come together in unique ways to do the challenging tasks in executing the strategy.
For decades, we’ve often thought of leadership profiles in unique buckets—two popular varieties were the “visionaries”, who embrace strategy and think about amazing things to do, and the “operators”, who get stuff done. We intuitively knew that there must be leaders that span these areas, but in fact, few do. According to a global survey of 700 executives across a variety of industries conducted by Strategy&, the strategy consulting division of PwC, only 8% of company leaders were said to excel at both strategy and execution.
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