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To be a leader you must possess a wide range of skills. Whether it is strong communication or impressive management tactics, these types of attributes play a major role in the successes and failures of your company. Strategy and execution are two of the most coveted skills for any leader and it turns out that they are in short supply.

Strategy& conducted a survey of about 700 executives throughout a variety of industries and asked each participant to rate their top leaders on effectiveness in specified areas. The responses surrounding strategy and execution were dismal. A mere 16 percent of high-level leaders were rated successful at strategy or execution. Only 8 percent of leaders were deemed effective at both skills. Moreover, 63 percent were given a rating of neutral or worse in at least one of the two categories.

While the stats are daunting, there was a small sliver of hope. Over half of the leaders who were deemed effective in one of the two skills were also rated successful in the other. Though it is a small consolation, it does suggest that when a leader gains skills pertaining to strategy they will be more likely to add on skills in execution (and vice versa).

But what about the 63 percent of leaders who were not only good at neither strategy nor execution but were rated neutral or lower? As with any skill set, strategy and execution can both be learned with a little practice.

Excelling in leadership requires a variety of high-level skills.Excelling in leadership requires a variety of high-level skills.

The five unconventional acts of leadership
The authors of the study regarding strategy and execution recently revealed some key ways to close the gap between the two skills. Paul Leinwand, Cesare Mainardi and Art Kleiner set out to study high-level companies that seemed to be getting strategy and execution right. In a contributing article for The Harvard Business Review, they laid out the common denominators of companies like Apple, Frito-Lay and Amazon in what they called "the five acts of unconventional leadership."

1. Identity commitment: A big part of strategy involves identifying what you do best and sticking with it. As a business leader, don't get caught up in trying to offer a million different services. The authors suggested developing a strong value proposition from the start and building off that to ensure long-term growth. Stay strong in your belief in these skills and let that faith influence the entirety of your business.

2. Scale the strategic: Make sure your strategic visions are translated into the everyday framework of your company, explained the authors. This often involves leaders stepping out onto to the floor and getting their hands dirty. Examine the workings of your business from every level – top to bottom – and then scale your company's capabilities in a unique way.

3. Use culture to drive change: Many business leaders turn to structural change when dealing with problems in execution. This can often manifest itself as a restructuring of incentives or the organizational chart, according to the authors. Yet companies that thrive with execution shy away from the disruption that reorganization can cause. Instead, they turn to the company culture. Leaders at top organizations turn to the thinking and behavior that has made their company so great. Instead of shifting positions they awaken old motivators and "use culture, not structure, to drive change," asserted the authors.

"Be steadfast in your commitment to your long-term vision."

4. Cut smart: Company cuts are nearly inevitable at one point or another, it is a natural part of the ebb and flow of business. Yet many businesses look to cut costs across the board in an even manner when they really should be approaching reductions more strategically with swifter execution. Take a hard look at your business and make decisions about what is truly essential. Review your initial value proposition – are your resources focused on those offerings? If not, make some cuts to help strengthen your company as a whole.

5. Keep an eye on the long-term: The world is constantly changing, and with it, business is continually evolving. As a leader, you need to have the power to recognize when to change with the times and when that change does not benefit your bottom line. Be steadfast in your commitment to your long-term vision and be bold enough to shape your own future, explained the source.

The authors noted that following these unorthodox leadership tips takes a certain level of confidence. But that only highlights the need for leaders bold enough to make these moves. The personal power that comes with a high-level position does not come to those who play it completely safe. There is a considerable problem with strategy and execution among leaders, as the report evidenced, and maybe a few unconventional leadership moves are what is needed to fix the problem. This is not the only path to better leadership but it is a start.