What Role Does Emotion Play In Strategy Execution?


Strategy is normally thought of as a purely rational exercise – your business has a set of objectives, a number of approaches to reach those goals and some key measures of success once the strategy is being executed.

So far, it doesn’t seem like emotion has any role to play. However, Quy Huy, associate professor of strategy at INSEAD, argues that strategy needs to have an emotional component as well as a rational one.

Mr Huy argues that in fact, the emotional attitudes of key staff members, particularly in middle management positions, will have a crucial role in executing strategy effectively. These soft human factors can have as much importance for realizing company initiatives as more concrete factors like your project planning structure.

Left unchecked, emotionally-based resistance to company strategy can have a deeply detrimental effect on project execution.

Fortunately, there are ways to ensure your strategy is not encountering resistance from middle managers or their teams. One of the easiest ways is to track the progress of company strategy so that you can identify which areas or teams whose project delivery is dragging.

Once you have identified which areas of the business might not be emotionally invested in your strategy, you need to address these issues. Taking the time to meet with key stakeholders on these teams and work out their key hesitations around your company strategy is an easy way to check in on these issues.

Of course, it may turn out that there is no emotional objection to your company strategy, but that teams just need more support in realizing your corporate vision. However, if there is an emotional objection to a certain project, these hesitations need to be addressed in order for your project to be successful.

Breaking down corporate taboos around emotional concerns can make the difference between strategy being executed well and being executed poorly.