Are you Playing the Game to Win?

Maybe you won’t agree with this. But I think that we in business can learn a lot about executing strategic plans from Vikings Coach Leslie Frazier.

Let me make my case.

As you no doubt know, Coach Frazier took his 2011, 3-13 team to a 10-6 record and a trip to the playoffs in December.

He did it by playing the game (by this I mean the coaching game) to win.

From what I’ve gleaned through the media, Frazier played the game by giving his players a consistent message - after good on-field performances and bad  - and his message was this: you can win by playing clean, efficient and deliberate football.

"You think back to April, the mantra has been consistent really the whole season, (the) offseason into the season," linebacker Chad Greenway was quoted as saying at the end of the regular season.
But that’s not all. In playing the coaching game, Frazier did more than give a consistent message. He used a disciplined approach. He met weekly with his player leaders and used them to echo his message. He maintained consistent leadership on his own part and, with his coaching staff, found ways to manage his team’s limitations. (Think devising game plans to keep Ponder comfortable.)
In time, Frazier won his coaching game. His discipline and motivational ability had his players believing in themselves, and his team on a winning track.

And you know what? Though the playoff game against the Packers exposed  the team’s shortcomings, fans - at least this fan - and players alike are looking forward with enthusiasm to next season.

So what can we in business learn from Leslie Frazier’s coaching game plan? To me, five things in particular stand out:

1) You have to have a strategic plan
Top business executives argue — and most have — that to be successful, a business must have a strategic plan. You’d be surprised, however, how many business leaders have none. A plan sets the direction for your organization and helps you establish priorities increasing the chances that your organization achieves its goals. 

2) You should have a consistent message
I’m always struck by how often I hear the same talking points from business leaders, and especially from our politicians. It’s clear they have found that a consistent message sticks and is crucial to getting everyone on the same page. To avoid confusion in your organization, you, too, should have a consistent message.

3) Your people must understand and buy into your message
Perhaps this is a no brainer, but let me say it anyway: Accurately communicating your message  will eliminate confusion among your people. They will know what you want and how you want to get it, which will help them move together to achieve your organization’s goals.

4) You must remain consistent in your leadership
Similar to giving consistent messages, you must give consistent leadership. So, once you establish your strategy and set priorities, you need to block out distracting initiatives and stay the course.
5) And, finally, you have to find ways to manage your company’s weaknesses
Let’s face it. Just like the Vikings team, every company has weaknesses. The trick is to acknowledge them, and then look for ways to manage them. For example, can you reposition employees to play to their strengths? Is there a way you can streamline communication between departments? Successfully managing your company’s weaknesses will help you achieve your strategic plan. 

Here’s the thing. Strategic planning helps you and those in your organization know where you are going, and how to get there.

There’s no doubt, however, that it takes a great deal of effort to transform your best intentions into best practices.

But if there’s any good news to this bit of information, it’s that most of your competitors will not pull it off. If you doubt that, consider the Vikings who ended up one of only 12 teams out of 32 to make the playoffs — and that after a dismal 2011 season.

So can you learn from the Vikings? Will you be the exception and reap the rewards? Are you, like Frazier, playing the game to win?

Tips: Four Disciplines from FranklinCovey For Executing Your Strategy
Most companies make strategic plans at this time of year, but by some estimations only 30 percent of strategic initiatives are successfully executed. What’s with that?

It’s no secret. There are barriers to execution. Lack of discipline, for one. And with it, lack of focus.

FranklinCovey, one of  America’s most respected business consulting firms, addresses this barrier in it’s book Four Disciplines of Execution, by Sean Covey, Chris McChesney & Jim Huling.

In it, the authors point out that most leadership teams acknowledge they need greater focus. They  then advance two focus traps:

1) Too many goals at once
2) Turning everything on your plate into a priority

They give four disciplines to help you avoid these traps and achieve yours and your organization’s goals:

Obviously I have barely scratched the surface of this book. But I wanted you to know about it and to give you the four disciplines. If you wish, you can find more at

Bottom line. Just like there are barriers to winning at football (or any game for that matter), executing a strategic plan requires more than a strong plan and talented workforce. Strive to stay disciplined and focused. If you avoid distractions and stay on track, you can successfully implement your strategic plan in 2013.


Your Solution Toolbox: Feedback System Gives Leaders Information About Their Performance

Measuring What Matters

Many organizations try to reach their strategic goals by changing processes or installing new technologies. What they don’t understand is that better processes and systems won’t get them to where they want to go. Instead, they need to unleash their employees’ talents.

But that takes leadership and for many organizations leadership ability is missing. Missing, perhaps, because effective leadership depends upon reliable feedback, and that feedback is missing. 
Enter Profiles CheckPoint 360º Feedback System
Profiles CheckPoint 360º Feedback System provides leaders with feedback from their supervisors, employees and peers—people who observe their performance. With this specific, job-related information, they can clarify issues and misunderstandings, and make positive changes. Indeed, with the self-knowledge they gain from this instrument, they can:

Of course, your leaders must be open to this feedback and willing to respond positively. Given this willingness, however, CheckPoint 360º will positively impact not only their individual growth but your organization’s success. 

If you are interested in learning more about about Profiles Checkpoint 360, call me today at 952-322-3330 or send an email to

HR Consulting
Call me, too, if you are looking for professional assistance with your personnel questions. We'll help you learn how to: 

Let’s Talk! We offer a no obligation consultation to informally assess your current policies, procedures, and practices. This may help determine what’s missing in your current programs to meet the above recommendations.  Call 952-322-3330 or send an email to

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