Are You Playing to Win or Not to Lose?

by Michelle Hunter

This is the time of year when many of us review our annual marketing plan and wonder how we could be halfway through the year and have only accomplished one third of what we set out to achieve. It’s not that we don’t have a solid, strategic plan. We do. It’s not that we haven’t set well-aligned tactics and a deliberate timeline. We have. It’s also not because we lack the infrastructure to support our implementation. We don’t. In fact, we’re busier than ever and yet didn’t accomplish all of our key initiatives. So, what happened? If you can relate, it may be that you’re a leader stuck in a “whirlwind,” coaching your team to “not lose” rather than to win.

Recently I read the book, “The 4 Disciplines of Execution” (4DX) by Chris McChesney, Sean Covey, and Jim Huling. It changed the way I lead. It changed the way we work.

The marketing and business development teams I have the privilege of leading have always been a cohesive unit that set their sight high and soar. But even this high-achieving group has stepped up their game since reading 4DX. We prioritize, communicate, and execute with a renewed focus, greater engagement, stronger commitment, and enhanced sense of purpose. The authors of 4DX state that the real enemy of executing on our priorities is our day job—the “whirlwind” of activities we do to keep things running day-to-day. Often this “whirlwind” zaps our energy and devours our time, making it difficult to execute anything new or focus on our most important strategic priorities. One senior executive interviewed in the book described the “whirlwind” like this: “We don’t have dragons swooping down and knocking us off our priorities. What we have are gnats. Every day we have gnats getting in our eyes and when we look back over the last six months, we haven’t accomplished any of the things we said we were going to do.”

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