Enhance Your Strategic Acumen
There are a lot of people who are great at strategic thinking. And there are others who are rock stars when it comes to executing against a strategy. Great leaders are proficient at both. They are big-picture thinkers, those who understand the value of a strategy and how to craft strategies that address short-range, mid-range, and long-range problems. But they are also savvy at designing and implementing a set of cohesive, interconnected actions that will effectively address those business challenges. Is there room for you to improve your strategic thinking or strategic agility? If so, studying up on strategy, capitalizing on opportunities to execute your strategies, and taking on the habits of others who already do it well can accelerate your strategic acumen. Enhancing your strategic acumen is a strategy in and of itself—a means for building your leadership impact and sharpening your business’s competitive edge.
Here are three tactics to support your ability to think strategically and become more effective at executing strategy:
Read about strategy. There are a handful of great books out there offering wisdom on strategic thinking and effective strategic execution—and some doing both. Among the options: Tim Collins’ “Good to Great,” Larry Bossidy’s “Execution: The Discipline of Getting Things Done,” and Peter Drucker’s “The Effective Executive: The Definitive Guide to Getting the Right Things Done.” You can also seek out online business webinars or seminars at industry conferences that speak to the topic of improving your strategic smarts or how to execute better.
Spot opportunities on the job. Where do you want to go in terms of your goals—and what needs to happen to ensure you achieve them? Look for ways in your job to think strategically about what you want as well as how you think you can make it happen in more general terms. Then outline the tactical actions that realistically must take place to support these big-picture solutions. Give those action items a timeframe for completion and start executing against your theoretical strategy.
Model an expert. You’re bound to know someone in your life who is excellent at strategy, both strategic thinking and execution. Note what this person does to be consistently successful in this area of leadership and business overall. What habits does this individual practice—or purposefully avoid? Which ones do you need to adopt or quit doing to make it possible for you to strengthen your strategic acumen. If you’re not quite sure what it is that makes your role model so good at what he or she is doing, try to initiate a conversation with that person. Take him or her to lunch or coffee and find out. Then build a strategy that’s specific to improving this area of your leadership—and commit to implementing and doing it!
What’s the most important thing you’ve learned about strategic execution?