Are you a CEO, Director, GM, VP or Senior Leader? Are you Strategic Enough? Our Top 5 Techniques

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“Am I a strategic thinker?”, “Am I strategic enough?”

Often we hear about women who suffer from imposter syndrome. This is where they doubt their accomplishments and are fearful that they will be discovered to be a fraud! Well, I’m finding more and more that CEOs, Directors, General Managers, VPs, senior leaders and business owners of both genders are questioning whether they are doing things right, adding value, and more specifically are they strategic.

Leadership can be daunting even to the most experienced. As a coach, mentor and facilitator, I work with very talented senior people who are running all manner of companies, large and small. Our conversations focus on the success of the organisation, its teams and the individuals. But when we focus on their contribution and building their personal success culture sometimes the conversation leads to the insecurities associated with leadership and their big roles.

I’ll be posting more about common problems leaders face (and may not want to voice) over the coming weeks, but here I want to focus on strategy and strategic thinking.

CEOs Being Strategic (or not)

When I hear questions like “Gabby, am I actually a strategic thinker?” or “Am I strategic enough?” More often than not the answer is a “hell yes” from me.

See the problem isn’t in whether or not they are strategic, because the conversations we have demonstrate very strategic thinking, but what usually happens is that their conversation gets into the weeds of operations. Because when the operational aspect of implementing a strategy is so big, the initial strategy or strategic thinking sometimes is forgotten or pales.

Michael Porter on strategyWhat is Strategy?

Strategy is corporate lingo for planning ahead. Being future oriented.

What is Strategic Thinking? Strategic leadership requires us to think, act and influence others in ways that promotes the enduring success of the organization. First, strategic thinking is grounded in a strong understanding of the complex relationship between the organisation and its environment.

The techniques I use to help ground my clients: 

  • We start by defining strategy and strategic thinking, and how that relates to how they work.
  • We explore and define processes for an initiative that requires planning ahead
  • We question whether the decisions are based on collated evidence and Team Intelligence or hunches (because yes this is the future we are talking about)
  • We create a map of actions to move forward.

By the way, if you are doing these things, you are likely to be thinking strategically.

Still Struggling to Think Strategically? Top 5 Techniques

Am I strategicIf my Executive Coachee or Mentee is still struggling with strategic thinking here’s what I recommend:

  1. Make time for thinking.
  2. Do your research about your industry, look at trends – what is impacting growth and viability?
  3. Ask big questions based on information and data that you have.

What if..,? How can/will this impact other divisions/ other sectors / other companies…? What will this look like in one year, three years, 50 years, when I’m not here? Who and where in the world are the disruptors in your industry?

4. Don’t work in a silo. Learn from and collaborate with others including the most immediate ones around you or under you. Tap into the Team Intelligence for research just be mindful your conversations don’t get into the weeds of operations and execution.

5. Capture it all! Write it down and then bring it together succinctly.

Most importantly, get out of your comfort zone. Visit industry conferences – all around the world, that’s how you’ll find the disruptors. Up until recent times one senior GM of Technology I know paid for himself to go the best industry conference in the world, his employers now recognise this as part of his job as a strategic leader! (And they pay for him!)

Here’s an interesting article that discusses can large companies be successful with less process and more delegated strategic thinking? And offers some great insight into strategic thinking in big corporates.

Conclusion

Regardless of whether you are worried ‘am I a strategic thinker? or “am I strategic enough?” or ‘what happened to the team’s direction?’ Moving strategically toward success is much the same process. You need to:

  • Talk ‘it’ out
  • Research ‘it’
  • Document ‘it’
  • Action ‘it’

It doesn’t matter what the ‘it’ is. If you have others to talk ‘it’ through with, to help you put that pen to paper; the focus, drive and purpose you need, for success, will come out to play.

Books and Resources for Strategy

competitive advantage business book clubBooks on Strategy (Kindle or Audible)

Want to hold a book? We recommend Book Depository with free worldwide delivery