Throughout my career, I get excited about new initiatives and often put a lot of time into thinking about possibilities. However, big ideas can fall flat if we don’t now how to move them forward. Let me share a client story so you understand what I mean.
Let’s call this client Mike, who I was working with to evolve their continuous improvement program. Weeks and months would go by where we wouldn’t get visibility to the status of the initiative. Often he would deflect or make excuses or if you came to him in person, you would get a verbal status. It became frustrating for leadership not to have the report for this initiative to track his progress and make sure he stayed on track.
Upon further discussion with him, he was always the execution guy, but never had to report formally to leadership. He never had a framework. I worked with him on what information would be required by leaders for a monthly high level status report and then we built a schedule for him to collect the data, review, and issue on a monthly basis. Once that system was built, getting support for the initiative was easy because it was visible.
We make assumptions that people know how to kick off an initiative, but the reality is the plan is often already laid out for them, leaving them to execute. Knowing how to build a plan and keeping accountable to your own plan is a skill many leaders don’t have. They fall victim to the easy fire fighting and any other problem that comes in their door. They know how to solve problems, but fail to have a reliable system to plan, prevent and ultimately improve through initiatives.
Creating momentum behind an initiative is a harder skill than you think and often missed when elevating to the C-Suite.
Here are some thoughts on how to build a process to move your initiatives forward:
- Confirm you are still committed to the initiative. Moving forward without passion will kill success out of the gate.
- Put your thoughts down on paper to get a high level view of your idea. Don’t seek perfection, seek to iterate.
- Run it by a stakeholder ask for feedback. Making a proposal is already a step towards leadership.
- Build in accountability – weekly report and reminders until it becomes routine.
- Communicate, communicate, communicate and acknowledge the collaboration of others. It’s not just about moving your initiative forward, but also gaining the collaboration of others.
These are simply ideas to get you moving your initiative forward. However, if you still struggle, I ask you a few questions:
- If you can’t master this skill, how can you ensure others will replicate your behavior?
- If you aren’t committed, should you be a leader or simply a single contributor?
- If you’ve mastered this and your team around you has challenges, do you have the courage to ask for help if you don’t have the capacity to elevate others?
These are bold questions for which leaders must face and be able to answer. Now I challenge you to act. Look at your initiative and apply this framework or something of your own making.
Do you still have questions unique to your situation? Consider The Drop In CEO Collective to pose these challenges or reach out to me direct for a quick conversation.
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