Execution is everything. Plan all you want, dream all you can, then turn that key or you've accomplished nothing. Execution is what separates those with lofty ideas from those who end up winning the game. It's about taking strategies and making sure they are implemented with power.

Creating a culture of execution is a leadership issue. It combines creating a "no-excuses, get-it-done" culture with the systems, processes, and accountabilities that ensure things are done consistently and well. But it's also more than a leadership issue.

Plan, execute, measure, celebrate

People at every level in an organization can get bogged down in planning and strategizing without ever getting off the pot.

It's easy to guess which things in a company are measured and audited: It's the things that people actually DO and do well. If you want something done with fairly strong consistency, set measurable benchmarks.

But don't forget to put systems in place to see if the benchmarks are being met. If a standard is measured in the forest, and no on is there to audit it--does it make a difference? Not bloody likely. Why should it?

You can't monitor and audit every facet of your business, or you won't have time to run the business. So where does execution matter most? It matters most in the critical moments I call Moments of Truth--the moments where execution can mean the difference between success and failure.

Focus like a laser on Moments of Truth

Moments of Truth are those critical times when a customer forms an impression of you, deciding whether your offerings and their standards see eye-to-eye. Though they vary from industry to industry and business to business, every business has them. Define them, create measurable goals and a way to assess progress, and GO.

Use weekly planning meetings in which each attendee declares focused results following a clean process and you will create magic. These meetings create the engine to keep people focused on doing the right things and getting results in the areas that matter. It also reveals the "stealth slackers"--those who are otherwise masterful at hiding and looking busy. Got some of those?

Don't let "busyness" get in the way of business

Top performers don't just stay busy--they know how to get the RIGHT things accomplished. Top performing leaders also know how to get their people focused on doing the right things, especially those things intimately tied to the Moments of Truth that can make or break a company. They know that accepting no excuses from their team members means permitting no excuses from themselves as well.

In the end, execution boils down to three crucial ideas:

- Define your Moments of Truth and how you will measure progress.
- Put systems in place to instruct and assess, then hold people accountable (including yourself).
- Celebrate victories large and small at every step along the way.

Miracles are supposed to happen, but they require a steadfast, ironclad system of execution and a leader who is committed to making the miracle happen. So be the miracle!