It is game time! You are in the third element of the Organizational Fitness Model: Planning, Communication, Execution, and Review. This is where your leadership of the organizational athletes you recruited and trained is put to the test. It will test your foundation (planning process) and the level of cardiovascular fitness (communication) of your team.


If you hit the mark on planning and communication the likelihood of having consistently smooth operations are pretty good. But what else is required for a fit organization in the area of execution? This is where agility, resiliency, flexibility, and the ability of you and the team to react to changing conditions make the greatest impact.


The Duality of Leading

What capabilities allow leaders to shine in this area? From my experience, those who have embraced the duality of their role are most successful. What do I mean by duality? Leaders have two distinct roles, leading the team and being part of the team. Leading the team means holding the strategic vision and assessing progress toward that vision. Being part of the team means being involved in the tactics and execution of certain evolutions.


But which tactical areas should I involve myself? Be involved in tactically executing what only you can do. Such as: pivoting a strategy, hiring or firing at certain levels, making certain decisions for example reallocating budgets.


You will be tempted to get involved in many other areas. Particularly if you are a new leader.  After all you know areas better than anyone else and could speed up the process. That is how you rose to this leadership role. In the short term there are benefits to that. Long term, they carry potential consequences. Such as: delayed growth of personnel and most critically the misallocation of your time, energy, and expertise. You may be zapping critical capacity needed for the next big event that only you can do.


When is the coach of a team sport involved tactically during the game? During breaks, between plays, or time outs. They make adjustments, substitute players, draw up a new play, evaluate performance, and manage the clock. Then they step back let the athletes execute the plan and evaluate its effects on the overall strategy.


Acting like a coach is not as easy. Unlike the coach you can still get on the field. You make the rules on where you get involved. Here are some questions to help evaluate whether to get in involved in a particular area:

  • Is this a task/event/decision that only I am capable of doing/making?
  • How does this affect the big picture?
  • Is this task taking away capacity I might need for strategic challenges?


Your Organizational Athletes

Enough about you, now what about your team in the execution phase? In the planning and communication phases have you equipped them well? Have you given them the autonomy and authority to make critical tactical decision?


What does an organizational athlete look like on your team? I recommend you build a description. Here are some thoughts.

The team member is able to:

  • Fluently articulate the overall strategy
  • Communicates a shared vision of the organization
  • Articulate their role, responsibilities, levels of authority and how they fit into the overall strategy
  • Invoke their decision-making authority without hesitation

Aptly name, Agile Project Management is an example of organizational fitness. Originated in the practice of software development it is now used in all types of project management. Built on 12 principles  its focuses on flexibility, collaboration, teamwork, communication, and continuous evaluation. It is a mindset that requires teams to assemble at short intervals to assess progress, provide input, make changes, and set the path forward. It requires every teammate to contribute to the decision making of the next steps. It is worth your time to become familiar with concepts of Agile.


Every industry, company, and small business intuitively knows what fitness looks like for them. Having the discipline to adhere to the standard is the challenge. This is similar to going to the gym or running every day. You know what fitness looks like. However, just going through the motions does not provide a quality workout or run. You need to be deliberate about what you want to accomplish.



Through planning build your foundation and develop your organizational athletes. Communicate your plan clearly to ensure it is understood by all stakeholders. In the execution phase, lead from a stance that balances your tactical and strategic involvement and allows your organizational athletes to play the game.