What Barriers are Getting in the Way of Your Execution?

What Gets in the Way of Execution?

Execution is the must-have to achieving an organization’s desired goals. One of the most important responsibilities of a leader is to collectively work with professionals to create a best-place-to-work environment. We and our direct reportsand certainly anyone taking the time to read this blogwant to execute well.

Leaders model behaviors expected of those we lead, but certain potential barriers keep us from maximizing performance. These barriers originate at a subconscious level, perhaps stemming from emotions that sit just below the surface. Our teams might not be aware of these things happening, and if they are, they may not know how to change them.

Here are some barriers to change that get in the way of execution:

Barrier 1: Denial

In our research, we find that organizations without good measurement tools may be unaware that certain things are happening. For example, when we present results using data and input from the workforce and stakeholders, senior executive teams are often so surprised that they say the data can’t be right. Teams that deny the data impede progress toward creating a culture of excellence and improving organizational performance.

When we know there is a problem, it’s up to us to come up with a solution. If we’re part of an organization, we have to be part of the solution.

Barrier 2: Rationalization

When we rationalize, we come up with reasons that something won’t work, can’t work, or will never work. Sometimes we can rationalize so much that not only will our excuses make sense to us, but they’ll make sense to other people, as well. We may even rationalize them so much that they become our reality and part of our nomenclature.

It is important to relate, not compare. If others can do it, we can, too, by learning and harvesting best practices from them.

Barrier 3: Blame

Of course, it’s tempting to blame easy targets like the government, difficult students or families, inadequate compensation and benefits, and so on. We like to point the finger at these “culprits” for the poor results or inconsistencies we are facing. A good way to reduce blame is to find those in your organization who are succeeding and then point out what they are doing well.

Barrier 4: Discomfort

We have never seen a definition of leadership that includes “to be comfortable” or “to create comfort throughout the organization.” And there is a good reason for that: it is uncomfortable to execute a plan that has transparent results. Transparency is not fun when your results aren’t great. Even when they are great, good leaders know to aim for better.

Barrier 5: Lack of Skill

Leaders are responsible for engaging in continued skill development, coaching, and supporting their direct reports to enhance their skills. We stress that the values of an organization are shown by the organization’s commitment to developing its leaders. Research shows that the most important person in an employee’s work life is his or her leader. The number one reason people leave an organization is their leader. It makes sense to do everything we can to invest in and develop the best leaders, who then apply the same principle to develop those they lead.


What’s stalling your efforts? What barriers have you built for yourself? What are you/your team doing, or not doing, that is keeping your commitment from being more fully realized?

Asti Kelley, Studer Education℠

Excerpt from: Maximize Performance



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