Thursday Thoughts: Leaders understand the importance of execution

In the book Jack Welch and the 4E’s of Leadership, Jeffrey A. Krames explains that exceptional leaders share four characteristics: They have energy.

They energize. 

They have edge.

They execute.

Which do you believe Welch sees as most important? Yep, you guessed it:

“The first three E’s are definitely essential; however people who execute effectively understand that activity and productivity are not the same thing. The best leaders are action-oriented, focused on getting outcomes, and know how to convert energy into action and results.”

Extraordinary leaders who know how to execute and get the job done are the ones who ultimately fulfill their goal of building a competitive and successful organization.

The creation of the Ford Mustang is a great example of excellent execution. Lee Iacocca, then the general manager of Ford, was the powerhouse behind this new car. But before Iacocca could make the Mustang a success, he had to discourage Henry Ford II from developing a car called the Cardinal, which he was convinced would be a flop with a new generation of car buyers.

Eventually with his straight talking, Iacocca convinced top management to drop the Cardinal and clear the path for the Ford Mustang.

The company was still hesitant and did not want to be a part of a new-product disaster. Worse yet, managers feared that this new Mustang would lower sales of other Ford cars. Iacocca was undiscouraged and remained convinced that the car market would flourish with the release of the Mustang.

He put together a team to capitalize on his dream and vision. He pushed the team to design this car in just 14 days. The Mustang was released in April 1964 and Ford showrooms were flooded with people. In the first two years, Mustang generated net profits of $1.1 billion – clearly a stunning success.

“He pushed incredibly hard, making his vision a reality. And he succeeded beyond anyone’s imagination by delivering eye-popping profits (execution).”

We can see that this portrait in execution shows how a leader with a capacity for execution can make the right things happen.

So stop and take a look at yourself and your career. Ask yourself, do I want to deliver results? Am I a consistent performer? How hard will I work to get things done and develop an execution culture? Commit yourself to this and you’ll make execution a critical ingredient in your success.