I have recently begun coaching a manager who has taken on a job which increased her responsibility and challenges. As she rushed from one meeting to the next, “How do I become more strategic?”.
I thought I would think about that and summarize some suggestions about becoming more strategic.
The first question that comes to mind is, “What do you mean by strategic?” Do you mean keeping the big picture in mind? Do you mean solving the root cause of the problem? Do you mean connecting your goals with the goals of the organization? Do you mean accomplishing bigger results despite the whirlwind of your day job? Do you want all of the above?
An article from Forbes suggests that strategists constantly ask the following questions.
What does my organization bring to the world? Does that difference matter? Is something about it scarce and difficult to imitate? Are we doing today what we need to do in order to matter tomorrow?
So it seems that a strategic person has a clarity of purpose. Steven Covey in his book, the Seven Habits of Highly Effective People suggests weekly planning over daily planning. So clarify your most important priorities and develop them into a mission statement. Then identify your most important weekly priorities (big rocks) and schedule those priorities in your calendar before the week begins. Fill in around the big rocks with the smaller rocks. You can only say No and smile when there’s a bigger yes burning inside you.
I consulted the Successful Manager’s Handbook which I always suggest that nobody read. 🙂 On the other hand, it can be a great resource guide. I looked up the word strategic thinking in the index and it refers me to the following.
Bring cross-functional and cross-business knowledge to bear on issues p. 54-55
Competitors value propositions, strengths and weaknesses p. 48-50
Consider strategic issues in decision making p. 20-21
Convey thorough understanding of your area’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats p. 59-61
Create measures that reflect success of strategies. p. 71
Create strategies to balance short-term and long-term business plans p. 73
Current and future customer needs 44-46
Develop vision/strategy for your group consistent with its role in success of organization. p. 61-62
This list is not exhaustive, but it gives you an idea.
I do think that as managers move up the organization, strategic thinking becomes increasingly important. How can you become more strategic? What is your strategic development plan?