One thing I often hear managers and leaders tell me is that they have been told they need to ‘be more strategic!’ that this is an important development area for them. Often this comes on the back of failing to be selected for a job, or at review with their boss.
Image credit unknown – from web site: https://www.math.hmc.edu/~tucker/math104/resources2.html
Most folks just accept this and don’t inquire on this question. I encourage them to ask their Boss: ‘OK, I understand that you think I need to be more strategic. Could you help me understand that that is and what it looks like from your perspective?’
I do wonder sometimes if this feedback is a way of avoiding telling someone that they aren’t ready (never will be?) for the ‘next level’ of management. Framed as a positive, but lacking the courage to be direct, open and honest.
But perhaps it is a genuine offer of feedback – and if it is, it’s pretty poor feedback is it not! Quality feedback is specific and clear – both in terms of articulating the area for improvement and what success would look like when the issue has been addressed, or the opportunity embraced.
So what do people mean when they say be more strategic? It could be to think more long term. To take in consideration greater degrees of complexity. Often it’s paired with the statement that you need to be ‘less operational’ – in other words, less in the detail, and more on the big picture.
In my coaching work, when an executive tells me they want to be more strategic, they often mean that they want to be more in charge of their priorities and goals. Not time management, but able to step back and focus on their own priorities. To take control of their own job, career and life.
I came across a book recently called ‘Being Strategic‘ and the author, Erika Andersen shares her definition of what being strategic is:
‘consistently focusing on those core directional choices that will best move you toward your hoped-for future.’
So, why don’t you start being more strategic tomorrow?