Only 8% of leaders have both of these skills. Do you?

Although research has shown that the most effective executives are both visionaries and operators, leaders who actually possess both skills are few and far between, write Paul Leinwand and Joachim Rotering for Harvard Business Review.

In fact, only 8% of leaders excel at both strategy and execution, according to a 2013 global survey of 700 executives by Strategy&, PwC's strategy consulting business. Truly great leaders understand that to be a great visionary, you must be a great operator—and vice versa, argue Leinwand and Rotering, both executives at Strategy&.

Based on their research, Leinwand and Rotering identify three mistakes leaders may make when closing the strategy-execution gap.  

Mistake 1: Your strategy doesn't leverage core strengths

Before you can develop a bold and executable strategy, you must first identify your organization's unique capabilities, the authors recommend. A solid strategy leverages the areas that differentiate your organization from your competitors, they add. 

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Mistake 2: Your budget doesn't match your priorities

To bring a vision to life, leaders need to articulate the connection between the organization's budget and larger mission, Leinwand and Rotering write. If you don't invest in the operational programs you need to succeed, your strategy will likely fall short. You should be able to point to specific, concrete changes you've made to support your strategy, such as new technologies or training sessions, the authors write.

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Mistake 3: Your employees aren't motivated

Strategy execution requires motivated employees, but only 28% of employees feel fully connected to their organization's purpose, according to a not-yet-published survey by Strategy&. To close the gap between strategy and execution, leaders need to help employees understand how they connect and contribute to the overall vision, Leinwand and Rotering write (Leinwand/Rotering, Harvard Business Review, 11/29).


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