There are four traits to being a strategic leader:
Acting with intention sounds like something we all do, but the fact is that most of us spend too much time responding and reacting. Strategic leaders view events through a lens of purposefulness. They choose where and when to engage and do so in ways that not only address the immediate, but that also move things closer to the vision. By being intentional, strategic leaders invest more of their time for long term benefit and spend less of it on putting out fires. Being intentional means we structure our work around important (as opposed to urgent) priorities.
Solving problems may seem like we do all day long but this isn’t actually the case. Most of the times, we are actually treating symptoms instead of problems. Treating symptoms is a temporary fix and symptoms will reoccur, demanding additional amounts of our time. However, with increased intention, we can uncover and address root problems. Focusing on root problems prevents symptoms from reoccurring and allows us to reinvest saved time into efforts that further our purpose and values.
Enacting relentless incremental change isn’t as glamorous as doing “big” change, but it is more effective over time. Strategic leaders look at situations and ask, “what is one thing I can do right now that will make this a little bit better?” Incremental change allows for constant improvement and builds momentum for more significant undertakings. It also results in more effective use of resources because efforts that don’t work required minimal resources.
Developing people is at the heart of leadership. It is easy to forget that as we are consumed with day-to-day operations, but if every team member/employee was 30% better, wouldn’t the organization and our outcomes also be 30% better? Strategic leaders understand that the single most important thing they can do to improve organizational performance is to improve their people and they develop core strategies that help them focus on that.
Each of these four things works together and are components of an integrated strategic leadership approach. Acting with intent helps us differentiate symptoms and problems. Engaging in incremental change allows us to improve problems immediately. Solving problems helps us improve lives for our team members and allows us to invest more time in helping them grow.
If being a strategic leader is so clear cut, why is it so hard? There are four barriers to being a strategic leader:
Tomorrow, we’ll look at the first two barriers but before leaving, think about your own leadership. Of those four traits (acting with intention, solving problems, enacting incremental change, and developing people) which are your strengths? Which ones do you need to grow in?
Do good and be well,