What Strategic Leadership Actually Looks Like

Who doesn’t want to be more strategic? It’s common feedback. Maybe you heard it in your performance review at the beginning of the year. The challenge is figuring out how to act on it.

Whether you’re early in your career, in the middle of it, or decades into it, strategic leadership is a skill every professional can improve upon.

At PeopleResults, when we deliver workshops on leading strategically, we break it down in a very simplistic way – what being strategic means and the top behaviors of strategic leaders.

It starts with managing not just the day to day operations but also looking out to the horizon to see what’s ahead. This means:

  • First and foremost, you’ve got the day to day operations covered. Do not take this for granted!
  • You also make it a priority and find time to stay current on business trends and external forces that impact your industry and your business
  • You translate “what this means to me / my business / my department” and what to do about that

When you think about the people you’ve worked with over the years who exemplify “strategic” in your mind, what habits, behaviors, and actions come to mind?

According to Peter Skat-Rordam’s book, Changing Strategic Direction, the three key contributors to becoming a strategic leader are:

  • Strategic Thinking
  • Strategic Learning
  • Strategic Action

In the workshop we take participants through each of these contributions in more detail and discuss how to apply them on the job. Then we talk through tips, tricks, and watch-outs which can impede our attempts at application.

For example:

You can’t be strategic if your schedule is packed running from one meeting to the next. Being strategic takes time and commitment.

You have to be deliberate about it. Start by regularly scheduling time for strategic thinking in your day. Treat it as a priority.

Betsy Winkler is a Partner at PeopleResults. She can be reached on Twitter @BetsyWinkler1