Thud!

That’s the sound of John Doerr’s bestselling book “Measure What Matters” hitting your desk, followed soon after by your boss’s voice recommending, not so gently, that you read it ASAP. Why?  Because your organization is going to be joining countless others in implementing the most powerful strategy execution methodology sweeping the globe – Objectives & Key Results, known as OKRs.  Or…so says your boss.

Is it worth it?

At that point you wonder, “Is it worth it?” Not just for the organization but for you as a leader. Should you put your most valuable resources – your time and attention – at risk for this goal setting system?

As an OKRs Consultant who has worked with hundreds of organizations world-wide, my answer to you is a resounding and confident YES!  If you want to become a better leader, OKRs are the path for you. In fact, there are at least five ways in which embracing OKRs will enhance your growth and development as a leader.  So, what is the relationship between OKRs and Leadership?  Let’s explore them each, one at a time, (this is part two in the series).

OKRs necessitate the translation of strategy

How will we know we’ve executed our strategy? The OKRs we establish and faithfully monitor provide the answer to that most fundamental of corporate queries. The strategy has to be translated into a set of objectives and key results that, when achieved, signal the overall execution of your strategy. Sounds easy, right?

But it’s not. You’ve now entered the hard crust of the OKRs framework – the ability to write technically-sound OKRs that clearly demonstrate the achievement of your strategy. This challenging task occurs at multiple levels in the organization. Company-level OKRs that gauge the overall execution of your strategy must be created and widely communicated. Furthermore, every level of the organization where OKRs will be employed, department and team contributions must be determined and set with their own unique OKRs.

As a leader you may sit at any of these levels. Perhaps you’re a senior executive who will be part of the team crafting the company-level OKRs. Or you’re a division, business unit, or department leader charged with helping your group harness the power of OKRs in demonstrating how their work links in the chain of strategy. Regardless of your position, at this point it’s up to you to lead conversations that make this translation clear to everyone reporting to you, resulting in powerful OKRs that will drive meaningful business impact. Being seen as a reliable and knowledgeable translator of strategy is a skill that will always be highly coveted.

OKRs require communication of strategy

You’ve torn the strategy to shreds in an effort to find its essence, and built your understanding of it back up brick by brick, now it’s time to perform the Vulcan mind meld and embed it into the consciousness of your team. Strategy execution is a team sport, no one goes it alone in translating your broad aspirations into reality. Heck, even Michelangelo had a team of assistants toiling away with him on the Sistine Chapel. Your job now is helping your team fully understand the strategy and begin to consider their part in its implementation.

In this process you have to step out of your leader role and embrace the persona of faithful communicator and teacher. One of my management heroes Steven Covey said the best way to learn anything is to teach it. So by sharing what you’ve discovered in your analysis of the strategy with your team you’re not only helping them grasp the company’s direction, but once again deepening your own knowledge and communication skills.

Paul Niven is president of OKRsTraining.com, the global leader in OKRs Coaching, OKRs Consulting and OKRs Certification. Stay tuned for part 3 in this series about OKRs and Leadership, coming next week.