Words of Wilson features a rotating panel of consultants from Bruce Wilson & Company, a landscape consulting firm.

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Can you describe your company’s strategy for 2019 in one sentence? If you or your leadership can’t clearly communicate the three pillars of your plan in 18 words or less, you could have a crisis of complexity.

Clarity is the secret sauce of execution. But all too often, senior executives say that their overall strategy isn’t fully understood – even by their own teams.

Greatly improving your strategy’s chance for actionable success starts by not over-engineering the plan. If it is too detailed or includes under-defined goals or overly broad objectives, it can be nearly impossible to carry out, let alone measure or communicate to your customers.

For a coherent and actionable plan your team can rally around and easily summarize, start by building it around these three questions:

Are you playing not to lose or are you playing to win?

A winning mindset is key. But playing to win takes risks. It can mean rocking the boat or making decisions that are uncomfortable. Playing not to lose is reactionary and grounded in avoiding mistakes.

Deciding which action fuels your leadership style is the pivot between whether your strategy will be based on playing it safe or seizing the advantage.

The point is that when leaders, like athletes, are challenged to rise to the occasion, they perform better than when focused on the consequences of failure.

Next time you or your team think about opportunities to grow, ask yourselves, “Are we framing this as a challenge to win to or are we acting to protect what we have?”

“Everything you want is on the other side of fear” are words to lead by.

What are you doing to deepen relationships?

Are you spending quality time on key relationships, giving as much as you expect to get, or regularly freshening a durable network of quality people that can have a positive impact on your success? If not, this exercise can help.

Create a list of 250 relationships that are important to your business. Include existing customers, market leaders and industry influencers, vendors, partners, media, your team members and professional resources. These can include advisors, lawyers, CPAs and individuals or professional groups you don’t know but who have potential to be allies in building other relationships. Of this list, 50 should be vital to empowering your success.

This activity forces you and your team to examine your short- and long-term strategy, which must be clear if you decide the right 250 and the vital 50. Rank your list from “no relationship” to a “lifeline relationship” – a person or entity that truly has your back. Identify ways to improve the loyalty of existing or new relationships to include attributes of character, such as generosity, transparency, trust and accountability.

Assign this list of 250 to a special database, powered by a process that reminds you to cultivate these people regularly, especially the top 50. Send them a note of thanks, take them to lunch and commit to regular and meaningful contact.

How would I put my business out of business?

To find out if your business can survive disruption, ask your team to think about your business from your competitors’ perspective. Execute a SWOT analysis (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats) to help you align around what’s unique about your business, where the weak links are and what moves your competitor would make to put you out of business. Being realistic about the obstacles your organization faces – whether from competitors or the market in general – will eliminate complacency and unlock your company’s ability to perform better against headwinds of change.

A great example of a single sentence strategy-and-execution statement comes from professional tennis legend Pete Sampras: “Win the Wimbledon men’s singles title with an attacking serve and volley game.” He states what he wants to achieve, where he wants to achieve it and how he plans to win. That’s all it takes. That, and these three planning pillars to jump-start the process, will go a long way to helping you move at a pace that’s right for you and leverage each phase to win.

Bruce Wilson is principal of green industry consulting firm Bruce Wilson & Company.