Strategic Leadership: What are your top 3 initiatives?

A few years back, I attended a CEO conference and had the opportunity to learn some practical and impactful leadership lessons from Greg Brenneman, Chairman of CCMP Capital. Among other top positions held in public companies, Brenneman was the CEO of Burger King and directed their turnaround efforts from 2004 – 2006. I was specifically interested in his discussion of how he was able to influence his employees to take ownership of their corporate one-page plan with their top 3 initiatives.

You might be wondering how it’s possible that a company the size of Burger King functions on a one-page plan. How do you transfer ownership of a one-page plan to employees? We can all take note of the brilliance of this simplicity. Brenneman and his senior team rolled out that one-page plan to the organization and asked leaders to write their own plan for their accountability to achieve the top three initiatives.

This next part is especially interesting. Every Friday, Brenneman would send a brief voicemail to the 55,000 employees with information about what the company did that week against the plan. They would gather the information from all different departments throughout the week and share different aspects of the momentum toward the top three initiatives.

Brenneman stated, “…they should be really tired of talking about your plan. That is what drives consistency and performance”.

Does this level of repetition seem like overkill? If you want to set your business up for massive success, you need clarity and focus. Clarity and focus comes from reinforcing consistent messaging.

Ask yourself right now what your top 3 initiatives are. If you asked the other leaders in your organization, would they have the same answer? In our strategic planning process, we ask our clients to stick to the top 3 priorities. This is especially interesting when we facilitate Board retreats with lots of type A personalities. Yes, we always get push back. No, we don’t cave. Prioritization is a priority if you want your bigger team to have clarity. What you focus on is what they focus on. Too many priorities and they won’t do any of them well.

The message here? Don’t do what’s convenient, do what works. It takes a tremendous amount of effort to get clarity on your top 3 priorities. Not only at an organizational level, but at a personal level as well.

Just like the rule in real estate is location, location, location – the rule for business focus is repetition, repetition, repetition. 

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