6 Ways to Get Things Done: Turn Thinking into Doing

Implement. Execute. Walk the talk. Get it done.

As a leader, you know that action counts. So why is it so difficult to just get things done?

Strategic thinking may not translate well into action because of the lack of clear strategic focus as well as the difficulties of aligning tactics with strategy and integrating short-term objectives with long-term ones, says CCL’s Kate Beatty.

Clarity often does not come through thinking alone. Strategic acting is a coordinated effort required by an organization to implement the ideas derived from effective strategic thinking. Approach your action and decision making from this strategic perspective. You’ll be better equipped to connect good strategy and meaningful action.

To develop your strategic acting abilities, focus on these behaviors:

  • Set clear priorities. This is one of the most important things that you, as a strategic leader, can do. Clear priorities facilitate coordinated action across the organization and provide a basis for acting decisively with both the short- and long-term in mind. They also help establish the relative importance of different initiatives.
  • Create conditions for others’ effectiveness. Establish how business strategy should be carried out, focusing on the human and organizational capabilities needed to achieve long-term goals. Balance direction and autonomy, reward appropriate risk-taking and ensure that systems support the organization’s direction and priorities.
  • Make strategy a learning process.Strategy should be dynamic, not something static that resides in a binder. Strategy informs action, but it should also be influenced by lessons learned from actions. Establish a mind-set and practices to ensure that lessons are garnered from action.

    Need more help with strategic leadership? Click the photo to check out CCL’s Leading Strategically program.

  • Act decisively in the face of uncertainty. Strategic decisions always involve some level of uncertainty. You must try to reduce the level of uncertainty surrounding key decisions, but don’t wait to take action until certainty is perfect.
  • Act with the short term and the long term in mind. This requires having the discipline to invest in the future and the present. But it also hinges on having a strategy that is clear in the first place. Without strategic clarity and focus, it is nearly impossible to make wise decisions about tactics.
  • Have the courage of your convictions. Invest in uncertainties. You typically don’t get immediate feedback about the wisdom of your decisions. The impact of your choices as a leader may not be clear for months, years or even decades. It takes strength and courage to stay the course.

How does  your organization use a strategic acting approach to accomplish tasks? 

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About Leading Effectively Staff

The Center for Creative Leadership (CCL®) is a top-ranked, global provider of executive education that accelerates strategy and business results by unlocking the leadership potential of individuals and organizations. Founded in 1970, CCL offers an array of research-based programs, products and services for leaders at all levels. Ranked among the world's Top 10 providers of executive education by Bloomberg BusinessWeek and the Financial Times, CCL is headquartered in Greensboro, NC, with offices in Colorado Springs, CO; San Diego, CA; Brussels; Moscow; Singapore; New Delhi - NCR, India and Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. Its work is supported by 500 faculty members and staff.
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One Response to 6 Ways to Get Things Done: Turn Thinking into Doing

  1. Love this article and the list of items within it. Over the years developing leaders, I’ve seen one big problem with strategy…very little of it is executed. Great plans fail simply because action isn’t taken. Most of the time it seems execution in one area is halted due to a competing priority which just popped up. I’m sure you’ve found the same to be true.

    At any rate, courage is key. Thanks for this article.

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