The Importance of Execution

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Michael K. Simpson, senior consultant for Global Leadership and Execution Practice at Franklin Covey, spoke Tuesday at the Kennedy Center about the importance of execution in a career. Execution is the art of getting things done.

“Execution is about inspiring and unleashing the talents and capabilities of those around you,” Simpson said. “There is a lot of talk about people who start, but not much about people who take it all the way to the end zone.”

Simpson explained the main reason why leaders fail is poor execution of leadership. There is a gap between good ideas and execution.

“There will always be more good ideas than there is the capacity to execute,” Simpson said.

People who execute well know the goals of the organization, know how to use actions to drive goals and create support structures to do it. They also play to their strengths.

“I am a firm believer in focusing on where you have a passion and where you are strong and then supplementing it,” Simpson said.  “You can play to your weaknesses but it probably isn’t going to get you where you want to go.” He added it is good to know weaknesses but play up strengths.

Simpson left with a few other pieces of advice in planning a career. He quoted Jim Collins, the author of “Good to Great.”

“Greatness is not a function of environment, conditions or circumstance. It is always a function of choice,” Simpson quoted of Collins.

Simpson advised students to “be disciplined, have a plan, sacrifice and do what others are not willing to do,” and “never lose sight of the Lord’s hand in building the Kingdom of God.”  He ended by reminding student to “have fun on the journey.”

For more than 15 years at FranklinCovey, Simpson has advised, coached and delivered leadership and strategy execution work sessions to many top global business and government leaders throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central and South America, Brazil, Great Britain, Germany, Denmark, Belgium, China, India, Malaysia, Vietnam and Saudi Arabia.

Previously, he held executive-level management positions for two leading technology companies as vice president of sales and marketing and vice president of business development and was a principal consultant for the global management consulting firm PricewaterhouseCooper in their Strategic and Organizational Change Practice in New York City. In 1995-96, he worked as an external consultant for Nike in Guangzhou, China designing and developing a year-long leadership program for Chinese managers. He has also worked for Marriott, Coca-Cola, Frito-Lay, Proctor & Gamble, Microsoft and IBM.

Simpson received a bachelor’s degree in international relations from BYU and a master’s degree in organizational behavior from Columbia University.

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