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How to Avoid the Whirlwind and Make Winning Big Happen in 2017

We all start the New Year with the best winning intentions. Grow revenue. Check. Increase profits. Check. Upgrade my staff. Check. And the list goes on.

But a few months later, I often see companies have been sucked into the whirlwind and those “best intentions,” well, they stayed stuck at the intention level and never made it to the execution level.

Let me share a tool and a process with you that will turn those intentions into winning big results.

Crystal Ball Tool

First, let’s gaze into the Crystal Ball.

In order to rock your intentions, you have to start with a clear definition of what success is. Our Crystal Ball tool helps you zero-in on what winning looks like and forces you to develop the game plan that leads to that victory.

It’s pretty simple.

Step 1: Assume 2017 has come and gone and you are now looking back on it. It was an absolutely fantastic year. Write down the specific and measurable outcomes you achieved that made it a phenomenal year. This is your clear definition of winning or what success means to you.

Step 2: Take a few moments and clear your head. Now, write down the top 3 – 5 things ranked in order that are specific and measurable that made it such a great year. These are the specific activities or game plan that led to your victory as described in Step 1.

We’ve had thousands of entrepreneurs and CEOs complete the Crystal Ball exercise and with few exceptions, they all stumble on step 2. Identifying what winning looks like is easy. Creating a winning game plan is not. That’s where our goal-setting process comes into play.

Winning Big Goal-Setting Process

I’m giving you permission to think big. Here’s what I want you to do. I want you to come up with a goal so big and so outrageous that it will spark a fire in your team and give them a way forward to new growth. It should be a goal where failure to achieve it will make every other accomplishment pale by comparison.

Let’s call that goal your Huge Outrageous Target or HOT for short.

How do you determine a HOT for your company?

The key is to look for leverage. Ask yourself, “What HOT, when achieved, would have the greatest impact on our business?” You are looking for a HOT that will deliver outsized impact on your business and perhaps even help your company grow exponentially.

Properly set, your HOT should inspire, motivate, reinforce your vision, and drive your culture of performance.

I am a big fan of the book The Four Disciplines of Execution: Achieving Your Wildly Important Goals by McChesney, Covey, and Huling at the FranklinCovey organization. The authors do a nice job of describing how to execute on your big goals—what they call “wildly important goals” or WIGs.

So whether you call it a HOT or a WIG is up to you.

Okay, here’s where the process comes in.

You’ve got your HOT. Now, like in the Crystal Ball exercise, you need to determine the specific and measurable activities that your company should undertake that will lead to achieving the HOT.

In line with what McChesney, Covey, and Huling suggest, these should be leading activities, not lag measures. A lag measure is the measurement of the goal. It is based on what has already happened.

By contrast, leading activities foretell the result. They are predictive in that executing on the leading activities will foretell changes in lag measures.

As you develop your HOT and determine your leading activities, you must vet your plan with your coach, trusted advisors, or colleagues to ensure you are in fact starting with the right strategies. Then, make it a priority for you and your leadership team to spend the majority of your time working on the leading activities that will lead to the desired results.

A breakdown most often occurs when the leadership team is trying to establish the HOT and connect it to the specific leading activities. The key is to make sure you pick the right leading activities. You have to be certain that executing the leading activities are truly the drivers that will lead to achieving your HOT.

After setting the HOT and determining the leading activities, you must follow through with developing a scoreboard. Similar to a sporting event, your scoreboard should track your progress toward achieving your HOT and be easily accessible to everybody in your organization.

How do you ensure people follow through on the HOT? It’s called accountability. Whether you hire a coach or each team member holds each other responsible for following through, you need an accountability system.

One simple accountability system is to hold a weekly meeting with your team. At this meeting, each member reports on what they committed to do that week, the scoreboard is reviewed, and new commitments are made for the next week. This is the process we follow with our coaching clients to keep them focused on their HOT.

This system of setting a HOT, developing leading activities, using a scoreboard to track lagging indicators, and practicing accountability is not just theory. It works in the real world.

For example, Sheldon Wolitski, CEO of The Select Group in Raleigh, NC, decided to follow this methodology and grew his company from $18 million to over $100 million over a six-year period. More importantly, the company grew its gross margin from 24 to 30 percent.

Here’s a podcast with Sheldon and some additional notes on how his company achieved such massive growth.

Now’s the perfect time to complete the Crystal Ball exercise and implement the “HOT” goal-setting process. By doing so, you’ll ensure that 12 months from now you’ll raise your glass in victory and say, “We Won!”

About CEO Coaching International

CEO Coaching International works with CEOs and their leadership teams to achieve extraordinary results quarter after quarter, year after year. Known globally for its success in coaching growth-focused entrepreneurs to meaningful exits, CEO Coaching International has coached more than 1,000 CEOs and entrepreneurs in more than 60 countries and 45 industries. The coaches at CEO Coaching International are former CEOs, presidents, or executives who have made BIG happen. The firm’s coaches have led double-digit sales and profit growth in businesses ranging in size from startups to over $10 billion, and many are founders that have led their companies through successful eight, nine, and ten-figure exits. Companies working with CEO Coaching International for two years or more have experienced an average revenue CAGR of 31% (2.6X the U.S. average) and an average EBITDA CAGR of 52.3% (more than 5X the U.S. average).

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