Earlier this week I facilitated a session with a group of executives. I asked them the following question:
What does it mean to be strategic?
Since strategy is such a complex concept, I was not surprised that their answers varied. Their answers included comments like:
- Thinking long term
- Planning activities to drive a sustainable business
- Having a clear vision, outcomes and key milestones
Let me ask you this question:
Has your manager ever told you to be more strategic?
If so, you are not alone. Most executives want their leaders to be more strategic but few people can clearly articulate what “being strategic” actually means! The reason is that strategy is both complex and multi-layered. In fact, there are three different components to being strategic. To help you to navigate the world of strategy, here are the three types:
- Strategic Thinking: This means that you take the time to think creatively about your business or your team. You challenge the status quo. You question assumptions. You define your vision and determine what future success looks like.
- Strategic Planning: This step moves your vision into a plan. You identify key goals and objectives to drive the business forward for the next 2-5 years.
- Strategic Implementation: Now it is time to implement your plan and move it into action. Ensure you hold your team accountable to move their goals forward.
So, are you strategic? Are you spending your time thinking, planning and implementing your vision? Here are a few tips (based on mistakes many leaders make) to help you to make strategy a regular part of your leadership practice:
- Strategic Thinking: Schedule time twice a year to do some strategic thinking with your team. Plan an off-site to think about your business, your goals, your progress and be willing to challenge the status quo.
- Strategic Planning: Create your strategic plan with your team. Keep the plan on a shared drive and refer to it regularly so people have clarity regarding their roles and responsibilities to move the plan forward.
- Strategic Implementation: Weekly, run 15-minute meetings with your team to discuss specific action they will take to move your goals and objectives forward.
It is very common for leaders to get stuck doing daily, tactical activities. To ensure you don’t fall into that trap, open up your calendar and block off time to be strategic with your team. You might be surprised at the results that you will all achieve by investing this time to think, plan and implement like a pro!