How often do you work on your leadership skills?
When it comes to the success of a business, more often than not, the result is tied to the strength or weakness of its leadership. And usually, it’s the more strategic leader that effectively drives revenue, expands market share and beats out the competition.
No matter the function, moving up in the ranks in your career takes time, commitment and dedication—with a level of expertise needed to be attained within your craft. But where does the core development of strategy really take place and how much of it is teachable?
Whether you argue that a strategic mindset is inherent or learned—of course, there will be individuals who take to it more naturally—there are definite ways to nurture your skillset as a leader and become more strategic. With the end goal typically being to strive for success across many facets, it is only logical that you work at improving your abilities from a strategic level in order to be your best self and leader.
I recently came across an article in Inc.com that discusses how you should focus on your critical thinking if you want to improve your leadership skills. I think there are some valid points—while I have a few of my own to add. I have put together the following 4 Ways to Become a More Strategic Leader.
- Look at the data
Great leaders do not make decisions blindly. They gather key data points from multiple sources and analyze that information—bouncing off questions and ideas to other stakeholders in efforts to make sound decisions collectively. Having a mix of both quantitative and qualitative data is critical to seeing things from a strategic position. You want to be able to tell a story from the information, determine the facts at hand and then pave a path forward from there.
- Create models that matter
Once you have the information at hand, you can model out your theories and projections to see at a glance the areas you want to focus on for the success of the business. Models are great tools to help you gain insight into situations and strategies at a snapshot. Then, you can align the appropriate channels in order to do so. When you are modeling out a theory, you can envision what might work and what might not. This allows you to find alternative ways for achieving your goals and helps you strategize the totality of the business as a whole.
- Find a sweet spot
One aspect of being a strategic leader is finding gaps in processes, products and systems. Perhaps, you uncover through your research and data that there is an untapped area of your business. Those who do not always have the big picture at hand may miss these areas of opportunity. Therefore, looking for, and ultimately finding, a sweet spot that may not have been previously considered can help grow and scale your function and business’ bottom line.
- Validate your assumptions
An effective and strategic leader is able to challenge themselves and those around them for the betterment of their function and business. Before making any big decision, a leader should test and validate their assumptions. This type of critical thinking actually helps improve decision-making—even if it lengthens the overall process. Working with other leaders and your teams to test out certain ideas is the best way to generate the results you are seeking.
What are some other ways to build your strategic skillset? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.
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One thought on “4 Ways to Become a More Strategic Leader”
Another tool I have used is to generate a list of long range scenarios that have no financial data at all. For example, if you’re in the distribution industry – what are the ways to deliver goods w/out fossil fuels? What does that look like. Getting to a shared view, then do the crunching.