Have you communicated a vision for your business or organization? Do you play a role in making sure that your vision becomes a success? Are you able to manage the changes you're bound to encounter?
If you said yes to these questions, then congratulations! You're a strategic leader!
As the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University notes, "strategic leadership occurs in three key places within an organization."
These places include:
As a strategic leader, you may have come across the phrase "strategic management." Gaebler Ventures defines strategic management as "the art of managing employees in a way that maximizes the potential of achieving your business objectives."
But, what does it take to think "strategic?" Paul Schoemaker, via Inc., states that strategic thinkers leverage the following abilities:
If you possess those habits, and apply the following five steps, you will be able to perfect strategic management for strategic leaders.
Understand and Define a Strategy in Your Industry
Before you can plan any sort of strategic management, you need to understand your industry. What's the market like? Who are your clients? Who are your competitors? What products or services are you selling? How do people view your brand?
Understanding this information, as well as your strengths and weaknesses will guide you in establishing the mission, values, and business goals that will help your company succeed.
Taking this a step further, Michael Birshan and Jayanti Kar of McKinsey & Group argue that:
"General ideas can be misleading, and as strategy becomes the domain of a broader group of executives, more will also need to learn to think strategically in their particular industry context. It is not enough to do so at the time of a major strategy review. Because strategy is a journey, executives need to study, understand, and internalize the economics, psychology, and laws of their industries, so that context can guide them continually."
Monitor and Test Your Strategy
After defining the strategy and putting it into action, you will need to monitor it to see what's working and what's not. During this time you should be focusing on establishing specific objectives and determining how to measure to see if your goals were accomplished.
Keep in mind, however, that many of objectives are going to be "supported by secondary research, educated guesses, or assumptions rather than field tests." To help put your mind ease, Ron Ashkenas suggests on HBR that managers should "include specific, short-term experiments whose results will communicate what works and what does not."
Communicate More Effectively
Communication is key when it comes to sharing the goals and objectives you've put into place. This is why Birshan and Kar recommend having a communication process in place for all executives involved. They use an example where team members meet "for two to four hours every week or two to discuss strategy topics and requires each executive taking part to flag issues and lead the discussion about them." They also suggest you use data and experimental exercises--through visual and tangible aids--to backup your arguments.
Also keep in mind that when you communicate your goals and objectives, you stay away from what Ashkenas calls "fuzzy language." This includes empty phrases or statements that just don't make sense. He argues that using this type of language will prevent success because team members won't exactly have a clear definition of what you're looking to accomplish. Because of this, there have been CEOs who have actually banned overused words like "synergy" and "robust."
Going back to Ashkenas, he claims that strategic management should "foster intense debates and discussions; but when the process is rigidly structured, and the documents are dense with data, the dialogue can be stilted or constrained." To prevent this from happening, he recommends you "ask tough questions when the plans are presented--and to do this in a way that can lead to unscripted answers that will enrich the thinking and increase everyone's level of confidence in moving forward."
Suggested questions would be:
Revise the Strategy If Necessary
Sometimes there are outside forces that might change the goals of a business or organization. For example, there is a major executive shakeup at your company, an acquisition or merger, a sudden change in the market, or a natural catsophere. Situations like these could force you to review your current objectives and adjust to the situation. As noted on Stratec, "the company's strategy is a changeable element, which is alive and keeps up to the enterprise's culture and history."