The Role of Leadership in Mission,
Strategy, and Execution
Although the core of this book is mission, strategy, and execution, and their importance as determinants of organizational performance, any prescriptions related to them beg the questions, who has responsibility for overseeing and conducting these activities? and who needs to understand and employ the mission and strategy frameworks? On a more personal level, one might also wonder, who is the reader to whom the ideas in previous chapters are directed?
This chapter represents a fundamental shift in the focus of this book, but one that is of significance to the practical utility of the material in the previous chapters. Let me explain. In the educational settings that led to the development of these ideas, the audience consisted of the senior executives of the kinds of nonprofit organizations we have examined throughout this text. Whether we call these individuals [leaders,] [managers,] [executives,] or [social entrepreneurs] is immaterial. The fact is that, regardless of what label we choose, they are the ones who have assumed, or been charged with, the responsibility for shaping and evaluating the organization's mission and strategy, and ensuring the execution of both. That they may do this in ways that involve considerable delegation, empowerment, or self-management is also immaterial. Ultimately, the primary organizational stakeholders—be they shareholders in the case of a for-profit entity, or the public as represented by the board of directors in the case of a nonprofit entity—look to these individuals as the stewards of the organization's performance. Hence, they are the agents responsible for integrating mission and strategy and ensuring their execution.1 For simplicity, I will refer to them as leaders, even though doing so means dealing with a host of thorny conceptual problems.