Key Themes:

Entrepreneurship, Leadership, Execution, Productivity, Management


Execution by Larry Bossidy and Ram Charan with Charles Burck breaks the mould of traditional business and management books by focusing on getting the job done and delivering exceptional results. It challenges the approach that leaders should focus on ‘the vision’ and overseeing the strategy and discusses the benefits of a more hands-on approach. The book outlines the argument that a leader’s key role is to get things done, to achieve organisational objectives and deliver on its targets. If you are in leadership or management (at any level), Execution will help you to harness the three processes of people, operations and strategy and seamlessly link them together.

Content Overview:

Execution recognises that many amazing visions, plans and opportunities fall short on results due to delivery failures. The book challenges the commonly held myths around execution and outlines the tools and processes to improve the desired outcomes. It showcases the  case studies of the CEOs of some of the biggest global companies that execution is fundamentally linked to a pre-agreed set of behaviours, that if fully utilised, deliver a true competitive advantage.

Execution is often thought about as doing things better and with greater efficiency. However, to be successful, the leader needs to have the ability to link strategy, operations and people. Without these three elements working seamlessly the execution won’t be streamlined or effective.

Bossidy and Charan outline the need to have a great business leader who is totally committed to the business and who has a clear understanding of its current environment and its future needs. Without this commitment, a leader will not be able to drive the desired outcomes.

The book highlights the importance of the business culture and that execution should be at the heart of this. It needs to be seen as the way we do things around here and something that all employees can grasp. A leader should be focused on reviewing the difference between the actual results and what they are looking to achieve as part of the strategic plan. By joining the dots, they can use this understanding to make significant and timely improvements where needed.

To understand this concept, you need to be aware of the following three truths:

  • Execution is a discipline, and integral to strategy.
  • Execution is the major job of the business leader.
  • Execution must be a core element of the culture of the organisation.

The core processes are intrinsically woven together and need to be connected to the everyday realities of the business by creating a discipline of execution around:

  1. People
  2. Strategy
  3. Budgeting/Operations

The leader must be in control of these three core processes: 1) by picking other leaders, 2) setting the strategy, and 3) conducting operations. Successful businesses take this on board and interrogate these processes in detail. Great leaders, however, don’t micromanage, they just take an active involvement and focus on the core role the leader should be performing.

Rating: 8.5/10

If you want to learn how to be an effective leader and strategise for success this is a great read. It provides you with the tools and case studies (both good and bad) to apply these processes to your business.

Readability: 9/10

This book harnesses the experiences of the best, it’s clearly laid out and easy to read, providing you with all you need to execute and lead efficiently.

Does what it says on the tin: 9/10

Yes – the principles demonstrated in the book give a clear outline for effective leadership and execution. The majority of case studies, however, are for large corporates but the core principles can be easily understood and applied to any size of organisation.