Vision and Strategy – Keys to CEO Success

  • Article
  • 7 July 2021

At a recent gathering, CEOs were asked the question: “Why do CEOs succeed or fail?” The answers validated many of the things typically identified as critical to success, but are still noteworthy. Themes centered on having a vision, strategy, 3-to-5 year plan, creating buy-in to those strategies and plans, and a relentless focus on execution.

The company’s vision needs to be clearly articulated in terms that resonate first with the Board, then the company’s employees and its shareholders. The CEO requires a mandate to achieve the vision, supported by strategies and plans to support vision achievement.

A strategy to execute on the vision was deemed to be critical. That strategy needs to be well communicated and understood by all in the company; people need to see their roles in implementing the strategy with links to their performance plans. Consistency in communicating and executing the strategy is key to achieving high levels of buy-in.

It was recommended by panel members that there shouldn’t be any radical divergence from the strategy and that the strategy should be monitored regularly.

The right people in the right roles, empowering them, clear roles and responsibilities, and holding people accountable were key elements in the relentless focus on execution.

Hiring people who are exceptional, fun, positive, and passionate is critical to strategy implementation. They empower them by giving them accountability and responsibility for results. One CEO mentioned that “good people fight being on a leash.” Treating people right makes them stay with the company and ensures that they refer other good people to the company.

Another key element in executing the strategy is having a 3-to-5 year plan outlining goals, actions, tactics, and results. Regular assessment and monitoring of these plans is seen as a “must have.” While the later years of the plan may not be as robust as for the first one to two years, having the plan is paramount. Adjustment and course correction of the plan based on regular internal and external scans is important to keeping the plan current and up-to-date. It should be noted that this is contrary to some schools of thought that strategic plans are no longer relevant.

While common business sense, CEOs on the panel reinforced the need for vision, strategy, plans and having the right people with accountability execute the plans. How well is your organization doing on these basics?

Dr. Wilma Slenders leads organizational strategic planning processes. If you’d like to know more, contact me at

Dr. Wilma Slenders PhD, PCC

Dr. Wilma Slenders is a renowned change management facilitator, leadership coach, and strategic advisor for organizations of all sizes and industries. Her insights come from over 20 years of hands-on experience and thousands of hours of teaching, consulting on, planning, and executing long-term professional leadership strategies and organizational strategies.

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