This week’s Leadership Tip of the Week is Strategic Thinking. Most leaders start as individual contributors in a specific skill like sales, finance, marketing, engineering, technology before advancing into a leadership position. One of the differences between being an individual contributor and leader is the amount of time spent on strategy versus let’s call them operational tasks and the higher the level of leadership, the more time should be allocated to strategy. What I mean by strategy is long term goals, let’s say 1 – 3 years and how to get there. Things to consider include economic, environmental, technical, political, competitive and any internal organizational factors and how they may change in the future. The risk in not practicing strategic thinking can be significant such as losing competitive advantage, not being prepared for external changes, losing opportunities identified too late, and many more. Now here are some tips for practicing strategic thinking and maintaining it going forward.
- Determine how much time you should be spending on strategy – 1 hour a day? 1 – hour a week? Schedule it in your calendar in perpetuity
- Maximize your delegation to free up the time needed for strategic thinking (stay tuned for a future tip on efficiently and effectively delegation)
- Determine periodicals, influencers, events and networks to utilize for keeping informed on economic, market, industry, technology and any other news relevant to your company, organization or role
- Find a place where you can focus and think creatively, and you won’t be disturbed
- Through strategic thinking you will find opportunities to share your knowledge and create strategies to help you and your organization stay competitive, innovative, effective and efficient
- Create a plan for how you will spend the time you’ve scheduled in the short term. Some times you may just be reading and researching, at times you might be engaging others on strategic conversations or attending conferences, don’t forget to network with people outside of your organization to learn and share strategic knowledge. Revisit the plan and make adjustments as necessary
All too often we get swept away in the day-to-day and put off the time needed for strategic thinking. It can feel like a luxury to make the time to read, attend conferences and network with others. But keeping up on strategy is far too important to put on the bottom of the to-do list. Stay tuned next week for another leadership tip of the week.