Have you ever received feedback during your last performance review or when you moved to your new senior leadership role that you “need to be more strategic,”? Then you know how frustrating it can feel especially, when you are given the definition of a word by using the same word. It just isn’t helpful.
I recall one of my first coaching clients who came to me with her goals – one defined as being more strategic rather than reactive in her new executive role. As a Vice President, heading up operations of several countries, she asked me to help her to become a strategic leader.
In order to help Laura with her goal, I chose to pinpoint and question several areas of her development such as making and committing to her actual thinking time, building up her network, researching and learning about the trends within and outside of the organisation etc.
However, despite the fact that this methodology appeared to be as an effective method at first, looking back I understand now that this type of methodology does not always necessary leave a long lasting positive effect in the human behavior. Basically I was working on changing her behaviour prior changing her automatic thoughts in her mindset. Often the feedback during our sessions was: I don’t have time for this, I just have so much work, I am super busy etc.
Here is a guidance based on my knowledge and experience on how you can become more strategic in your new or current role in the long run.
- Start by changing your perception. If you believe that strategic thinking is only for senior executives such as CEOs, CIOs or CFOs etc., think again. It is not and it should be part of any leadership role. More you become strategic, more opportunities for yourself and your organization you will recognize and be able to predict. But what does it really mean to be a strategic thinker? Strategic planning in particular deals with the mission and purpose of the organization, its value proposition, i.e., what value the organization delivers to its customers, as well as the organisation’s future direction and growth.
- That is why it is so important to keep your organisational mission and vision in the back of your mind, as it inspires you to learn more, do more and move outside of your comfort zone in order to accomplish this mission and vision.
- Concentrate on what you want and why you want it. Strategic refers to “what” and “why” the business or leader chooses to do something rather than “how” they plan to accomplish it. During my coaching sessions with Laura we were working to figure out “HOW”. Nowadays I work more strategically as well. Apart from discussing the options of becoming a strategic thinker and strategic leader, together with my client we programm the end goal in his/her subconscious mind and let the client’s mind figure out the HOW itself. This methodology leaves a lasting positive change as it changes the programming of the client’s mind.
- Work on your self – awareness with a leadership & executive coach. Become aware of your unconcsious thoughts and beliefs. Ask your coach to help you with removing your unconscious bias (limiting beliefs and inner blocks) holding you back to become more strategic.
When we know that our results are deriving from our habitual behaviors and our actions are caused by our thoughs and feelings, then programming our new mindset with NEW STRATEGIC THOUGHTS eventually bears strategic actions. What are some examples of such strategic thinking and strategic beliefs?
- My focus as a leader is on how to uniquely deliver more value to the customers of my organization and get my organization to win at the market.
- I embrace external trends with a strong bias toward action and a desire to avoid getting weighed down by processes.
- Where competitors may see constraints, I seek opportunities for my organization
- I question unquestioned market beliefs as well as organizational assumptions
- And more…
You might be asking, is that it? All I have to do is to integrate these sentences into my (subconscious) mind on autopilot and I will become a strategic thinker or strategic leader?
YES! If these thoughts become a part of who you are (your very deep inner mind), naturally with a little effort you will start to :
- research market / industry trends,
- learn about terms and methodologies that are crucial for strategic thinkers,
- how to recognize and seek patterns in multiple sources of data or
- how to reframe problems to get to the root causes, and challenge unconscious beliefs about the market.
These behaviours and many others will become a part of your regular working habits, because your behaviour will be triggered by your new beliefs (strategic thoughts) on autopilot.
How quickly will it happen? This depends on your current “programming” you are presently as a leader operating from. How knowledgeable and experienced you already are as well as what unconscious bias you hold, will be either contributing to – or delaying your new strategic mindset. That is why it is so important to work with a Coach.
Think of it as a tree, which grows by its seed being planted in the soil. This seed initially grows roots. These roots are like all terms, information, data, networks and skills you need to learn and have in order to become strong and stable. In other words, the tree can eventually grow above the surface and bear fruits (making strategic decisions, actions and changes).
If you are interested in knowing more and becoming a strategic thinker and strategic leader, please contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org