Extend the business horizon from tactical to strategic, short-term to long-term, and local to global, managing virtual/dispersed teams.
- Your boss values your skills as a subject matter expert, but now he says to move up you'll to be more strategic. What does that even mean? Let's begin by analyzing your current business scope. At this point in your career, you've probably developed a specialty or an area of expertise. You've worked hard to make that your strength, so it may seem disconcerting to find out that your position as a specialist could actually be holding you back. Leaders have more of a panoramic perspective instead of a tight focus.
They step back to take in the broader view, the bigger picture. If you want to become a strategic leader, you'll need to train your brain to think with a wide-angle lens. I want to share with you a few quick examples to demonstrate that contrast. Managers concentrate their attention on the performance of the direct reports. Leaders envision strategies to leverage the skills of other teams across lines of business locally and globally. Managers stay plugged in to the details and the day-to-day deadlines that must be met.
Leaders understand the granular level, but they balance that with a long-term vision, annual goals, and future plans. Managers feel a strong personal commitment to a project. Leaders feel accountable to the project, to their team members, and to the organization overall. From manager to leader the scope expands significantly. If you want to demonstrate your growth as a strategic leader, start stretching the scope of your thought processes in these four areas.
The first area is Organizational Perspective. As I mentioned in one of the examples, shift some of your energy from day-to-day operations to considering the company's overall business plan. Instead of focusing on tactical moves, take part in strategic initiatives like replacing a legacy system or instituting a new compensation program. To put yourself in position where you have more opportunities to be strategic, you might want to shake things up. Consider seeking a global assignment.
Apply for a high potential, a rotation program. Ask to participate in managing a vendor network. The key is to challenge yourself to stretch. The second is Market Perspective. Make sure you have a solid understanding of your company's position in the market overall. Know the competition, their relative sizes, targets, market share, and value propositions. How does your company stack up? Be the person who thinks about your organization in context on this bigger stage.
The third is Customer Perspective. Take a deeper dive into the mindsets of your customers. Put yourself in their habitats. Watch them as they use your products, enroll in your services, and interact with your people. From their viewpoint, what's it like to do business with your company? With that knowledge, you may be able to anticipate changing consumer needs before you commit to the next version of your product or service. And the last area is Financial Context.
Think about the broader financial implications of your expenditures, not just the impact on your quarterly departmental budget. In fact, try thinking about them as if you were the CEO. Is there an overlooked way to save money through economies of scale? Could we spend more now to significantly increase revenue by year end? Changing the magnitude of your thought process on budget issues will send a clear signal that you're ready for success at a higher level. By expanding your perspective in all of these areas, you'll become more strategic, and before long the people around you will notice you're thinking like a real leader.
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- Looking and sounding like a leader
- Increasing your emotional intelligence
- Becoming a thought leader
- Expanding your strategic scope
- Viewing challenges with a fresh lens
- Improving your decision-making skills
- Cultivating conditions for team success
- Building meaningful connections