(615) 656-0465 mark@markskenny.com
Each week, I read articles and listen to podcasts from various resources on how to build a functional, collaborative, and aligned team. Here are my top five picks from last week. I have added my comment about each article.

How to Excel at Both Strategy and Execution by Harvard Business Review

Article’s Summary: 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.

My Comments: I included this article because of this paragraph: “Leaders who master both strategy and execution start by building a bold but executable strategy. Next, they ensure that the company is investing behind the change. And last, they make sure the entire organization is motivated to go the journey.” Too often strategy is not bold and is not actually used as a lever to take the organization on a journey.

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Why is Collaboration Difficult For Some Leaders and How to Make it Easier by Lolly Daskal

Article’s Summary: Effective collaboration is essential for leaders in today’s fast-paced, competitive business environment. When leaders work together with their team, they can achieve greater productivity, creativity, and teamwork. However, some leaders still find it difficult to collaborate effectively.

My Comments: I had to include this article because I wrote a book about collaborating across functions. Lolly draws out how what are focusing on determines our ability to collaborate with others.

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10 Ways Managers Maintain Credibility When Higher-ups Reverse Decisions by Leadership Freak 

Article’s Summary: Promised promotions aren’t happening. Instead of increasing headcount you’re laying off. How can you maintain credibility with your team when upper-management changes decisions?

My Comments: This is a reality at some point for every leader that is not the top CEO of the organization. This article provides a nice, concise list of actions to take with your team.

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Into all problem-solving, a little dissent must fall by Ben Fletcher | McKinsey & Company 

Article’s Summary: In today’s interconnected business environment, companies won’t be able to solve problems effectively without encouraging “contributory dissent”—a healthy approach to gathering diverse perspectives that should be taught to team members, modeled by leaders, and supported by culture.

My Comments: This article will cause you to ask “am I seeking out contributory dissent or just hearing what I want to hear?” It is not possible to arrive at the best decision without hearing dissenting viewpoints. Of course, it is your job as the leader to create the environment or culture where dissenting view is expressed.

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Make Sure to End Every Meeting with These 3 Things by Lolly Daskal

Article’s Summary: When you ask someone what they do for a living, it’s not likely that they’ll answer with “Well, I sit in meetings all day.” But when you look at the average businessperson’s schedule, it’s clear that meetings make up a substantial part of many jobs—especially for those in leadership. Meetings are often dismissed as a waste of time, but meetings that have a clear purpose and are well run can actually make things go more smoothly and save time. And what happens after those meetings is just as important.

My Comments: Another article from Lolly, this one on how to end your meeting. One thing missing: what do we need to communicate and to whom, then set a 24 hour time limit to verbally communicate to those individuals (or 24 hours to communicate verbally to direct reports who then have 24 hours to communicate to their direct reports, and so on.)

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