Liz on Leadership
Bridging the Execution Gap
Three Ways to Get Up to Speed
In my advisory work with CEOs and other top executives, I work with extremely talented leaders. These executives have vision. They develop winning strategies. They recognize talent and organize top-tier teams. They delegate the work, empower their people, and stay out of the details. And they expect their teams to execute.
But sometimes, execution falls short of expectation. If you’re like many of the leaders I’ve worked with, it’s a familiar and frustrating problem. You have a team that appears to see the vision and understand the strategy but fails to adequately deliver. So, what’s getting in the way? Do you have the wrong people on the team? Or is something else going on?
There are many reasons teams fail to fully execute on strategy. Here are three of the most common, with advice you can use to slow your team down and get back on track.
1. The team doesn’t (really) understand the vision – or they don’t buy in. It may not be obvious that your team isn’t on board with the vision. They are getting things done, but without the clarity and purpose of a compelling vision to drive them.

  • Slow down to speed up: Make sure you clearly communicate the vision, and engage your team in the process. Ask them what they understand the vision to be. Inquire directly, “Do you think we are going in the right direction?” Create an atmosphere that welcomes honest input and embraces new perspectives.
2. There is excessive focus on the short-term. With sales targets to be reached, rapid decisions to be made, and growing pressure from the internal and external environments, there is often a tendency to work on what’s most pressing—regardless of whether it’s also most important. If your team is absorbed in putting out frequent fires, reacting to immediate pressures, and frantically trying to close the gap this week, month or quarter, they won’t be driving activity that supports the long-term strategy or bigger vision.   
  • Slow down to speed up: While short-term deadlines can’t be ignored, you can help your team strike the right balance. Once they’re onboard with the vision and truly get the strategy, the next step is to emphasize those short-term actions that align with driving the vision and achieving long-term success. Innovation, growth, industry disruption, and market domination are possible only when your team executes in a way that balances short-term needs with the organization’s broader, long-term objectives.
3.   There are 100 priorities. If your team is going in too many directions and taking on too many projects, they may successfully move 100 things forward one inch at a time. But they won’t move the important things as far as they need to. And they won’t figure out where and when to say no. They will lack clear parameters for investing time, money, energy, or urgency. And execution will suffer.
  • Slow down to speed up: Bring the team together on a consistent basis: consider taking an hour per week, a day per quarter, or a week per year. Use this time to engage the team in a strategic pause—a deliberate break from the daily pressure and busyness of business—to drive clarity and alignment around what’s most important and directly connected to achieving the strategy and realizing the vision. 

For additional strategies to help you and your team get better, faster, more sustainable results, check out my new book, Slow Down to Speed Up: Lead, Succeed and Thrive in a 24/7 World . If you love what you read, post a review and receive a personalized, signed copy to keep or gift to a colleague, client or friend. Many of my best clients are providing copies to their teams and engaging my help directly to rapidly accelerate performance in 2018!

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Are You Controlling Your Reputation?
Or Is It Controlling You?

Pick up the Wall Street Journal any day of the week, scan the front page, and you will immediately find stories of brands tarnished and reputations squandered. Companies losing the confidence of their customer base. Business partners severing the relationship. Key investors pulling out with little to no warning. They simply don’t want the association—or the risk.

The fact is, it doesn’t take much to seriously damage a brand. There are countless ways to lose the trust of your key stakeholders and you needn’t be the CEO of Equifax, Wells Fargo or Volkswagen to experience profound, even career-ending, reputational damage. Never forget, as a leader, you’ve got a lot of people watching you and continually making judgments about your integrity, approach, and effectiveness. The same level of scrutiny applies to your team and your business. Judgments are made, opinions shared, perceptions influenced. And in today’s world of instant information sharing and the 24/7 news cycle, reputations are built or broken with the click of a mouse.

As a business leader, it’s essential that you pay attention to your brand. There are three elements of reputation that should always be on your radar: personal, team, and company. Pause to reflect on each. Ask a diverse group of others for input. Then decide: is my brand exceptional, mixed, declining, or poor? And what must I do right away to solidify personal, team, and company repute?

Consider the following:

Personal brand:
  • How am I viewed by my boss, peers, direct reports, and business partners?

  • How do my customers and clients perceive and talk about me?

  • What do my contacts in relevant regulatory agencies think of me? Do they trust me? Respect me?

  • Does the Board give me freedom to make decisions without undue interference?

  • Do my employees and industry peers view me as an exemplar and a visionary? The kind of leader who values employees, puts customers first, drives innovation, and is poised to lead the company to an extraordinary future?

Team brand:
  • How is my team typically described by others?

  • Are we viewed as reliable, trustworthy, direct, professional, inclusive, communicative, strategic, future-focused, collaborative, creative, etc.?

  • Do others want to join the team?

  • Are my top performers consistently being approached by others to partner, mentor, join their team, or provide a value-added point of view?  

Company brand:
  • How is the company portrayed in the press?

  • What do customers and employees say about us on social media?

  • Do our clients consistently rave about us?

  • Do we get frequent and enthusiastic recommendations and referrals?

  • Are we seen as an employer of choice?

  • Is our stock price increasing?

  • Are investors raising their hands to get a piece of the action?

  • Do regulatory agencies trust us?

  • Are we being pursued for exciting collaborations and partnerships? 

  • Are we seen as having a bright future?

  • Do we stand out as industry leaders?

  • Are we receiving meaningful recognition and awards?

Amid the daily pressures of leadership, rapid decision-making, and too-frequent fires, it can be a challenge to focus on building an outstanding brand. But at the end of the day, it’s pretty simple: be the leader who generates confidence, trust, loyalty, and rave reviews. It’s the foundation of success for you, your team, and your company—not to mention the customers, partners, and investors who look to you to lead an exceptional organization.
Slow Down to Speed Up: 
Lead, Succeed and Thrive in a 24/7 World  

Slow Down to Speed Up: Lead, Succeed and Thrive in a 24/7 World , is now available on Amazon! It’s a targeted, actionable book, filled with pragmatic advice to help you, and your company, thrive in today’s fast-paced world. 

If you would like to explore ways to leverage the insights and tools in Slow Down to Speed Up, send me an email:

The first 20 (genuinely) happy reviewers will receive a personalized, signed copy to keep or share!

"Liz provides an in depth look at something we all struggle with. Finding the balance. These real life examples provide insight into some innovative new thinking around the pragmatism of finding high impact results in the middle of changing priorities and the constant search for overall effectiveness." 

David and Esperanza Neu 
Founders, Neu Center for Supportive Medicine and Cancer Survivorship

“I have worked with Liz and greatly benefitted from her advice and the tools she has developed over a long career of advising executives. She creates a very easy system to get you to Stop: reflect, reprioritize, and create a vision for personal and career success. I love having all the tools in one book. Having the toolkit to put your thoughts into action is invaluable. ”

Lorrie Vogel
Former VP, Nike Material Science and Innovation

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About Dr. Liz

Dr. Liz Bywater has been called a one-of-a-kind leadership expert. Working at the intersection of business and psychology, she brings together pragmatic experience, advising top executives across the Fortune 500, with an advanced degree in Psychology and a dynamic personal style to inspire, engage and counsel her clients.

For more than a decade, top global organizations have requested Liz’s help in resolving issues such as creating extraordinary client relationships, increasing market persuasion, and driving productive collaborations in an increasingly complex world.

Liz advises senior leaders at some of the world’s most successful companies, including Johnson & Johnson, Nike, Thomson Reuters, Bristol-Myers Squibb, AmerisourceBergen and more. She uses her expertise in human behavior to drive commercial success. She helps her clients propel innovation, exert influence and lead their organizations through change.

A thought leader in organizational excellence, Liz provides expert commentary for such publications as the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, Fast Company and USA Today. She sits on the editorial advisory board for Life Science Leader magazine and is a featured expert on such radio broadcasts as CBS Philadelphia's Philadelphia Agenda with Brad Segall and Remarkable Women with Marilyn Russell. 

Liz earned her PhD in Psychology at the Derner Institute for Advanced Psychological Studies at Adelphi University. Her undergraduate degree is from Cornell University, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and Cum Laude. She is a longstanding member of the American Psychological Association and the Society for the Advancement of Consulting. She has also been inducted into the Million Dollar Consulting Hall of Fame.

Liz lives in Bucks County, PA, with her husband, teenage son, and is a FaceTime call away from her college freshman daughter.

Stay tuned for Liz's forthcoming book, Slow Down to Speed Up: Lead, Succeed and Thrive in a 24/7 World (Business Expert Press, November 2017).
Liz Bywater, PhD | Bywater Consulting Group | 215.805.5551 |