The ability to execute — to implement and carry out our plans — is the key ingredient in the recipe of success for us and our teams. The ability to execute well provides a competitive advantage and helps us stand out. Want to improve your ability to execute well and rise above the crowd? Let’s explore 10 keys to help us further improve our execution,

Provide strong, positive leadership. Good leaders explain well the mission of their team —which explains why the team exists. The best leaders also participatively create a strong vision of where the team is headed, a picture of a desired better future. And they develop an action plan (strategies) of how to reach and achieve the desired vision.

Emphasize the value of a “follow through” culture. Having an action plan and strategies to reach our goals and fulfill our vision is essential, but more is needed. We need to develop a culture of “follow-through,” where team members are focused on executing the plans.

Build team camaraderie and unity. Intentionally working to develop a team mindset of “one for all and all for one” will obviously help our execution. Research has shown that teams that build a strong sense of camaraderie have greater unity and significantly outperform teams that lack it.

Involve your team members. Participation leads to greater buy-in and better quality of results compared to leaders trying to figure out everything on our own. Asking our front-line team members about the best ways to do the work will lead to greater buy-in and better work processes. Execution will improve as a result.

Set clear goals and priorities. The most successful leaders excel at clarifying expectations. We should ensure that the goals and priorities are well understood, and continually reinforce them. By doing so, we will be benefitting our key stakeholders and helping the team earn the recognition they deserve.

Measure and celebrate progress. One key principle I have learned is “success breeds success.” We need to have targeted performance measurements so everybody is working together for the same results. We then need to hold ourselves accountable by measuring the actual results against the targets. And when the team is meeting or exceeding targets, we should recognize, reward, and celebrate the progress.

Reward desired behaviors. We should recognize and reward our teams when they are meeting milestones and goals. At the same time, we need to reward individuals when they exhibit the behaviors we seek.

Plan for the unexpected. As we all know, “stuff happens.” Sometimes we have unexpected problems with materials, equipment, vendors, employees… even the weather! Having contingency plans in place before problems occur is crucial to meeting our goals and obligations. Having contingency plans in advance also increases the team’s confidence and reduces the stress level when the inevitable problems do occur.

Communicate, Communicate, Communicate.
We need to give feedback often so people know how they are doing — both when they are meeting expectations and when they are not. We also need to communicate well about everything relevant to a team and avoid people filling in communication gaps with the “rumor mill,” which can really dampen morale fast.

Just do it!
I love this motto from Nike. Talk by itself can be cheap; we need to be people of action and help our teams be action-oriented. Following is a simplified three step process to getting the results we desire:

a) Build the strategy

b) Translate the strategy into the everyday work

c) Execute the strategy

Let me share a closing thought from Steve Jobs, who said, “To me, ideas are worth nothing, unless executed. They are just a multiplier. Execution is worth millions.” I wish you success in executing well and experiencing even greater success for you and your team!

Wes Friesen (MBA, EMCM, CMDSM, MCOM, MDC, OSPC, CCE, CBF, CBA ICP, CMA, CFM, CM, APP, PHR, CTP) is a proven leader and developer of high performing teams and has extensive experience in both the corporate and non-profit worlds. He is also an award-winning university instructor and speaker and is the President of Solomon Training and Development, which provides leadership, management and team building training. His book, Your Team Can Soar! has 42 valuable lessons that will inspire you. Wes can be contacted at or at 971-806-0812.

This article originally appeared in the January/February, 2019 issue of Mailing Systems Technology.