We all tend to fit one of seven types of change leader, each of which indicates a different mix of leading with Head, Heart, or Hands. The third change leader type is the Executer; she’s all about leading with the Hands.
Instead of asking “Why?” or “Who?” the Executer’s first question tends to be “How?” This type of change leader gets the vision and where they need to go, understands the current state of affairs, and sees the need to plot an efficient course from here to there. They delineate who needs to do what, when, and how along the journey.
Executers have the right idea about the power of execution, but they need to expand their definition of the term. Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan describe execution as “the missing link, the main reason companies fall short of their promises, and the gap between what company leaders want to achieve and the ability of their organizations to deliver it.” Yet, they define execution as “not simply tactics” but as the “way to link the three core processes of any business—the people process, the strategy, and the operating plan—together to get things done on time.”
In Beyond the Wall of Resistance, Rick Maurer describes the number one mistake leaders make that results in resistance to change: they “assume that understanding equals support and commitment . . . Making a compelling case for the change seems to be the biggest thing you can do to build support and commitment for a new initiative,” Maurer continues, “and yet, it is the most overlooked task in the life of many changes.”
Remembering to incorporate the Head (vision and strategy) and the Heart (people and culture) would enable Executers to become more well-rounded and impactful leaders of change.
In Change Intelligence, I discuss several real-life Executors in their workplaces.