People, Strategy, Execution: Why achieving your business objectives fails if you ignore any of these


Focusing your time on people is critical to achieve the business objectives you thrive for. Not doing so is as damaging as failing to think about your business strategy or ignoring how to improve execution in your company. In this post, we will share a simple framework to help you properly focus your attention on what matters. We will also give you a set of practical questions to help you adjust your leadership focus towards sustainable business results.

…and if after reading this article you want more tips, don’t miss these posts about highly relevant leadership qualities:

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Effective Leadership: 4 key competences of a good leader

One of the surprisingly simple frameworks that frequently shifts the leadership awareness and priorities of leaders we work with is the following equation. Maybe due to its simplicity for a lot of leaders we coach this framework creates a little epiphany as they quickly realise where they should be spending more time on than they actually do:

Results = Strategy + People + Execution

What does this equation actually mean? First let’s look at the obvious: to achieve the desired business objectives and key results, you need a good business strategy, people that are engaged and committed to bring the strategy to life and a functional execution that translates the strategy into tangible outcomes (e.g. products, services).

Let me give you an example of an ideal scenario: You’ve got a great (1) product that covers an actual need in the market, you have (2) the right people on your team that love both the product and its purpose and your company and the people they work with, and you have (3) clear processes, logistics etc. that build the ideal product in a continuously high quality.

To achieve your business objectives, you must focus on people, strategy and execution

To achieve your business objectives you must focus on strategy, people AND execution

Now comes the less obvious: What happens, if you stop dedicating time to any of these pillars? – Just imagine for a minute that you didn’t spend time on your business strategy. Let’s say you continuously ignored the market and competitors nor would you look at what clients actually tell you about the value of your product. This is what happened to Nokia, Kodak and Blackberry. Without an appropriate up-to-date business strategy, you will have a great team executing existing processes that don’t serve actual customer needs. A bit like in a hamster wheel doing what they’ve always done.

Taking care of your people is key to achieve the results you aspire to

The same risk exists when you have a great business strategy and beautifully designed, efficient execution processes – but your people don’t relate to your company, its products or purpose, and your colleagues don’t feel part of something meaningful, important or considered. – Who does the job? And who will take care of delivering quality products and premium customer support in a consistent way? You want it or not, business objectives and key results will inevitably suffer.

An inefficient execution will negatively impact your results

Finally, imagine you have a great strategy and products that serve a real need plus highly motivated people who love your organization and the value you bring, but you miss efficient processes & organisation.

In the worst case (we often observe it in early start-up scenarios) this means you have a highly motivated bunch of people believing in an idea that never sees the light. Or the execution suffers frictions and inefficiencies that negatively impact your business objectives, and the motivation of your team. You get the idea?

Focusing your time on people is critical to achieve the business objectives you thrive forShine Coaching

Focus on your business objectives & allocate your time consciously to where it is needed most

So, what does this mean for your role as a leader? To achieve sustainable and consistent business results, you must allocate time to each of these 3 pillars. A good rule of thumb is to design your weekly or monthly routines allocating 1/3 of your time to each of these pillars.

And most importantly: once you have this structure in place, get flexible. Each moment and specific circumstances might require a special focus on a specific pillar, e.g. on the strategy or your people. Take COVID-19 and its impact: you might have had to revisit all the pillars or maybe you had to put special attention on your people first and focus nearly all of your time on your team.

What can you do to keep your current leadership agenda focused on your business objectives?

These 4 actions will help you check and focus your agenda on where you really are needed and bring value to achieve your business objectives:

  1. Given the current realities, think about what your organization needs most now. Strategy, People or Execution? Or 2 of them or maybe all the 3?
  2. Think of your past week and estimate how much time you have spent on each of the pillars.
  3. Identify the gaps between what your company needs and where you put your time.
  4. Plan your coming week according to the gaps you’ve identified.

One last word: Change is easier than you think

If you think adjusting your agenda is challenging, it’s not. Your energy goes where you put your focus. And whichever pillar you need to spend more time on, you can start doings little things.

E.g. if through the exercise you’ve come to realise that you haven’t taken care enough of your team, you could start engaging in coffee breaks with team members or have a chat at the end of the day, ask about how they feel both professionally and what’s going on in their personal life. Or recover the 1:1 growth conversations you’ve postponed due to more pressing priorities. For some inspiration, check Google Re:work’s guide how to care professionally and personally for your team.

Keep shining!