Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done – Summary, About Author


Execution is based on the phenomena of strategy, leadership and ultimately, execution in the real corporate world. An ideal book for any leader to improve its performance or any subordinate looking up to become a leader.

The book consists of three parts differentiated as:




When Planning and strategy is not executed effectively, the blame game starts and problem solving gets lost. In the book, execution is identified as ‘the missing link between aspirations and results’. Bossidy identifies three key points to consider when thinking about execution:

  1. Execution is a discipline, it’s a critical component of the strategy.
  2. The business leader is responsible for encouraging and promoting execution.
  3. Execution needs to be at the core of an organisations culture.

Part of executing means that you need to be in a position to understand the business environment and the organisations capabilities. You need to be able to make assumptions and forecasts. Execution requires the ability to link strategy + operations + people who are going to execute the strategy. Strategies most often fail because they aren’t executed well. Things that are supposed to happen don’t happen.

Organizations don’t execute unless the right people, individually and collectively, focus on the right details at the right time. For you as a leader, moving from the concept to the critical details is a long journey. Leadership without the discipline of execution is incomplete and ineffective. Without the ability to execute, all other attributes of leadership become hollow.

Too many leaders fool themselves into thinking their companies are well run. They’re like the parents in Garrison Keillor’s fictional Lake Wobegon, all of whom think their children are above average. Then the top performers at Lake Wobegon High School arrive at the University of Minnesota or Colgate or Princeton and find out they’re average or even below average. Similarly, when corporate leaders start understanding how the GE’s and Emerson Electrics of this world are run—how superbly they get things done—they discover how far they have to go before they become world class in execution. Execution is a systematic way of exposing reality and acting on it.

A leader who executes is someone who is constantly analyzing the gap between the actual results and the desired results of any strategic plan. By learning from this gap they can take their knowledge onto the next project and make significant improvements. Unless you translate big thoughts into concrete steps for action, they’re pointless. Without execution, the breakthrough thinking breaks down, learning adds no value, people don’t meet their stretch goals, and the revolution stops dead in its tracks.


Seven essential Behaviour of a leader:

  1. It’s so important that a leader is in touch with who they work with and the current business climate.
  2. Rather than avoiding the truth a great leader needs to embrace the truth.
  3. Leaders need to be setting goals and priorities. It’s a good idea to focus on a few key goals that the entire team can focus on.
  4. Never be someone who has a lot to say but never puts anything into action.
  5. A leader must have the ability to reward people. In doing so you encourage your team to work hard and achieve results.
  6. Pass on knowledge, always be expanding other peoples capabilities.
  7. It’s important that leaders are self-aware, have humility and are authentic.

By changing people’s behaviours, you are having a direct impact on the results they produce. So it’s important to ensure that the behavioural changes you encourage, promote a positive outcome. Bossidy explains that behaviours are the outcome of beliefs being turned into action. He emphasises the importance of developing people within your company. Whether it be providing experiences, learning opportunities, feedback, coaching education or training.

Most efforts at cultural change fail because they are not linked to improving the business’s outcomes. The ideas and tools of cultural change are fuzzy and disconnected from strategic and operational realities. To change a business’s culture, you need a set of processes— social operating mechanisms—that will change the beliefs and behaviour of people in ways that are directly linked to bottom-line results. Acting your way into a new way of thinking begins with demystifying the word culture.


People Process

People are at the core of any business, they are the ones that make decisions and create strategies. It’s absolutely critical that the right people understand how to translate the strategy into an operational reality.

Linking people to strategy and operations – creating links between people, strategies and creating both short term and long term strategy milestones is essential for focus and accountability.

Strategy Process

Strategies all have a common, ground-level goal: to win over the customers and establish a competitive advantage. Proper preparation and strategizing is important and the next process is to execute them well. A contemporary strategic plan must be an action plan that business leaders can rely on to reach their business objectives. Developing such a plan starts with identifying and defining the critical issues behind the strategy.

Operation Process

Everyone involved needs to be responsible for constructing the operations process. This isn’t purely the job of a leader. Bossidy identifies synchronisation as a critical part of the execution process.

Synchronization is essential for excellence in execution and for energizing the
corporation. Synchronization means that all the moving parts of the organization
have common assumptions about the external environment over the operating year
and a common understanding— the left hand knows what the right hand is doing.
It’s important to ensure that all parts of the organisation have a common understanding and know who is responsible for what.

About the Authors

  • Born on march 5, 1935 in Pittsfield, Massachusetts (Aged 86).
  • Graduated from Colgate University.
  • His wife’s Name is Nancy.

Larry Bossidy English Template - Cornell Capital

  • Chief operating officer of General Electric Credit Corporation from 1979 to 1981.
  • From 1991 to 1999, Bossidy served as chairman and CEO of Allied Signal Corporation. He became Chairman of Honeywell Corporation when Honeywell was acquired by Allied Signal in 1999.
  • He has 9 children and 31 grandchildren.