3 Steps For A Strategic Leadership Mindset

— May 10, 2017

strategic leadership

You are a leader, but where do you stand on your leadership endeavor? How do you take stock of where you are today and how do you get to the next level? There is always room for improvement, consider these three steps to power your strategic leadership mindset.

Strategy and vision are complicated if you asked 100 business leaders to articulate strategy you would probably get 100 different answers. Bottomline is strategic planning succeeds when leaders at all levels of an organization can use strategic thinking in their day to day decision making to drive the organization in the desired direction. Think of a crew team, it’s not only important to have all members rowing the boat in the same direction, but they must perform in unison.

1) Communication: It is your first step in leadership. No one can read your mind. Let employees and direct reports know specific expectations on what their roles are, expectations of them, and what to expect from you. Also, maintain an open-door policy. That way, if someone misunderstands you, they feel comfortable asking for clarification. Communicate the vision of the organization and your plan to drive results. Then break that idea up into smaller sections that can be owned by members of your team to gain involvement, engagement and a desire to be part of something bigger than themselves.

How can you communicate what success looks like for your staff? Odds are each person in your group may have a different definition of what success is in their role, some it might be monetary others it’s recognition or even the feeling of self-accomplishment. Do you have the right measurement systems and processes to drive the behavior you desire out of your organization? If asked, can your team describe what success means for the team and the organization as a whole? This is an inflection point for strategic leaders to dig deep with their teams, to develop the messaging, training, systems, and processes to align the team around a strong vision of success that is evident and understood. This is where you spend your time for the long term payoff.


2) The Power of Why: As a strategic leader, one of your favorite words should be “Why.” You need to challenge every aspect of your organization with why. Why are we providing services with this process? Why do we include this in our marketing or sales process? Why does the work we are doing today matter for what we hope to achieve in the future? The constant questioning by yourself and most importantly your staff spurs ideas around all aspects of the organization. It builds a culture of ideas and inclusion. A strong leader seeks input and welcomes feedback from others, and an excellent way to implement this is to challenge your staff to ask the question why with all aspects of their role.

Also “why” are you qualified to lead? People choose to follow not because they are obligated but because they want to. They give permission to the leader and trust they will be guided in the right direction. Strategic leaders need to work to earn the trust of their people at all levels of an organization, connect with them because you can’t lead without people. We can use the KLT acronym to demonstrate this in action. People first have to “know” you before they can “like” you and eventually “trust” you, remember trust is earned so show your team you genuinely care for their well-being.

3) Take Inventory: A strategic leader needs to take stock of all the work their team is completing and ask the question how is what we are doing today aligning with the bigger picture? There is power in clarity on how your individual job function aligns with the overall company goals and drivers. This clarity becomes even more empowering to direct reports when you can show linkage from their efforts towards the progress of your organization’s big hairy audacious goal. This transparency also exposes if your team is working on something that is not supporting the movement towards your organizations aligned values and you have the duty to refocus the activities of the team to make sure everyone is rowing in the same direction.

Be cognizant there is always more to learn. Just because you are leading a team does not mean you know everything. You must be open to learning from others, including the rest of your team. They will appreciate the chance to show their skills and expertise. Seek outside resources to guide you in the process of leadership development, performance excellence, and culture rejuvenation. These are practices where no single playbook works; each organization is unique in their goals and obstacles so don’t try to be an expert in something you are not as it can blow up in your face and have an adverse impact on the company; even though your intentions are in the right place.

Trying to understand what makes a good leader can seem elusive at times because it takes practice. You know that leaders must continue to self-improve and are dedicated to serving. So, set some leadership goals for yourself to start making organizational improvements.

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Author: Matthew Loughran

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