Last week I was speaking at the American Bankers Association annual conference, delivering a talk on Magnificent Leadership™ and the essential keys for leading during uncertainty.  I shared the 5 elements of setting strategy under those circumstances, and many of the CEOs in the audience concurred that more often than not, time and money are spent to go off-site to construct a strategy, only to return to the office and promptly shove it into a drawer.  Below you’ll find the 10 most common reasons why that happens and what to do about it.  In other words, how you can create a strategy that actually stays in the light of day and gets executed.

  1. It was complicated. Complicated does not mean it’s right.  It means it’s complicated.  Keep it simple.
  2. It wasn’t designed to withstand the rigors of doing business. Consider the “how” carefully.  Build your strategy to compete with daily rigors and responsibilities of everyone involved.
  3. There wasn’t adequate buy-in. Make key stakeholders part of the process.  Without that, you’ll be pushing a boulder up a mountain.  By yourself.
  4. It was rigid. Design it with flexibility in mind, and build in opportunities to iterate as conditions change.
  5. It was too broad. Take time to determine which initiatives (market share, brand recognition, client relations, etc.) will give you the greatest leverage and put your energy, attention, and focus on those.  Less is more.
  6. There weren’t clear, agreed-upon measures and check-ins. Create a comprehensive accounting of: what, who, when, and how.  Include opportunities to step back and assess progress, address stumbling blocks, and course-correct.
  7. It wasn’t big enough. Align yourself and your organization’s strategy with a vision of the future that’s compelling, clear, and pulls everyone toward it.  Be aspirational.
  8. Blame took center stage instead of curiosity. When there’s a bump in the road, abandon shame and blame in favor of problem-solving and inquisitiveness.  It will not only help to keep everyone on track, it will get you to the solution faster.
  9. Too few bore too much. The usual players took on most of the responsibility and it wasn’t sustainable, leaving others untapped and the strategy unable to be well-executed.
  10. The focus was execution-driven only. Develop internal best practices as you go.  They’ll be created from real-time iteration and experimentation, which is so much better than a theory that has yet to be test-driven.  When something works, note, repeat, and consider creating a process.


To inquire about working with me directly to create a strategy that truly moves the needle for your organization, you can reach me at:

And, if you aspire to take your leadership performance from excellent to magnificent, drop me a note at to schedule a mutually exploratory conversation.

I’m speaking on Magnificent Leadership™ — Leading Through Change and Maximizing Profits on March 8 in Raleigh at CAI’s Management Conference and would love to see you there.  Go here to register.

And if you’re hankering to get out of the office, expand your horizons, and bring that learning back to your organization and team to accelerate performance, there’s likely no more beautiful place to do it than in Banff, Alberta, Canada where I’m delivering the closing keynote on Magnificent Leadership™ next month at the Ignite Leadership Summit.  Go here to register.