Execute great

How to move from leadership program to great on-the-job performance


Published on: December 2022

How to execute “Great” leadership

How can organizations ensure that what starts in a leadership development initiative continues on the job? How do businesses ensure that leaders get consistent messages on “great” expectations, examples of what “great” looks like, the right tools, feedback loops and the coaching in the moment?

Our collaborations with clients have shown that we can create high impact support for execution of “great” leadership on the job through the following:

  • Expectations, learning and practice embedded in work tools
    Think about the tools leaders use every day—email, calendaring, budgeting, performance management, customer relationship management—and design ways to embed practice of “great” into these tools. Imagine a “smart” calendar that sent you reminders of “what great looks like” when it recognized that you were having a one-on-one with a direct report, or holding an important offsite meeting. What about a “setting great goals” learning tool that is available when you have to enter your goals into the goal system. It teaches you how to write effective goals and evaluates your goals.
  • Practice as a service
    Imagine an on-demand coach whose job is to help you practice deliberately for an upcoming event (ex. one-on-one meeting, strategy setting, budget review, collaboration with another function, high performer who is considering leaving the firm, daily meetings, project kick-offs, customer escalation, etc.). This expert observes you in action, gives you helpful feedback and maybe even drills you on specific skills the way a tennis coach would as you master your backhand. More than likely, this coach is a peer, an executive in your company or a retiree who is passionate and a true expert at the event you are preparing for. This kind of targeted coaching is less expensive, can easily be implemented virtually and comes at a lower price tag than the normal executive coaching engagement.
  • “Great” playbooks for key meetings
    Since leaders around the world do most of their leadership in meetings, why not organize reminder content and helpful tools around the key meetings they are going to lead. Imagine a “great playbook” for a strategy-setting meeting, a problem-solving meeting, an alignment meeting, a negotiating meeting, a decision-making meeting, a quarterly business review meeting—the list is unique to your rhythm of the business.
  • Collaborative and fun gaming
    Imagine a strategy execution drill that has teams all over the company playing to see who can execute the company strategy and achieve the highest performance on the scorecard: financial, customer, employee and shareholder performance metrics. Imagine a “Creating the Future” game where leaders compete to create viable new business ideas to grow the firm. All can be part of an ongoing leadership development experience that continues to practice, scale and model great business and people leadership.
  • A “great” dashboard
    In a real case, store managers learned this new dashboard in a leadership development experience and then were given the tools to operate this dashboard back on the job, including, for the first time, fast access to data that gave them insights into the drivers of their store metrics.

There should be much more focus on “executing great leadership” than we have seen to date. Most companies still focus on the leadership development program, rather than the on the job execution of the new behaviors, mindsets and actions they need to use on the job. The following graphic shows how focus is shifting away from programmatic experiences to on the job execution:


When leaders achieve “great,” they do the best work of their careers. They are also better equipped to role model and expect “great” from others – both of which increase value for their company and their colleagues.

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