Execution—not just having a plan, but carrying it out—is what separates businesses that prosper in hard times from those that go under. The ability to drive execution is thus essential to every CEO’s repertoire.
As a measurable competency, driving execution comprises three core skills: establishing accountability for hitting business targets; tracking progress on key metrics; and balancing long-term strategic objectives with short-term tactical goals. An analysis of 58 executives who have been through Korn Ferry’s CEO in-depth assessments of CEO readiness finds that those with general management experience are, on average, more skilled at driving execution. Our data analysis contrasted those who were strong/solid performers in driving execution against those for whom the competency was an area needing improvement. We found that 18 out of 31 (58%) executives with general management backgrounds were rated as skilled in driving execution, compared with 10 out of 27 (37%) executives with functional backgrounds, such as in finance, operations, or marketing.
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