When it comes to starting a new business venture, one of the most important skills an entrepreneur must learn is leadership.
The fact that we see so many businesses fail is proof that this skill must be considered as a priority if one expects to make their business last.
The reason why this is so important is that these new managers lack certain abilities such as delegation, time management, and problem-solving.
Many business leaders in the digital age focus most of their time on producing results and reacting to challenges.
Unfortunately, they do not spend as much time strategizing. And although all of these activities are just as valuable, most organizations do not have enough strategists.
Not surprisingly, leading organizations worldwide have a strong strategy in place and are usually run by visionary leaders.
If your goal is to ensure your organization becomes one of these top organizations, then it is critical for your leaders to develop their strategic skills.
Being strategic is part of every manager’s job, especially as they progress through the ranks and assume more senior responsibilities.
If you are not sure whether you (or other managers you work with) are a skilled or unskilled strategist, take a look at the lists below to see which answers apply to you.
If your answers tend to fall mostly in the “unskilled” list, then you need to work on improving your skills. If you are not sure about your answers, it sometimes helps to ask a co-worker or your manager to go through these lists with you and tell you how they see you.
According to many of the top innovation leaders, here are some of the key traits of an unskilled strategist:
- Doesn’t think strategically
- More comfortable dealing with the “here and now”
- Spends most of their time reacting to what is happening now/today
- Doesn’t see the implications or big picture
- Can’t create a vision for the future, a picture of where they need to be tomorrow
- May not know enough about the business and/or industry
- Relies mostly on what other people think and cannot construct their own strategic view
- Is very tactical/operational
- Has a clear vision of the future and where they are versus where they need to be
- Can anticipate future needs, challenges, and trends
- Has broad business knowledge and understanding
- Is future-oriented and sets time aside to think about the future
- Can create sound strategic plans
Suggestions for Developing Your Strategic Skills
If you want your business to survive, then you must become curious about tomorrow’s challenges. Many managers are so wrapped up in reacting to today’s problems that they do not care enough about the long-term future.
They think, “I will deal with it when it happens”. Unfortunately, waiting until it actually happens will sometimes be too late for the organization, and can also lead to cascading issues that will contribute further to the initial problem.
Being a good visionary and strategist requires curiosity and creativity. It requires the desire to play “what ifs” games. Nobody knows the answers, but good strategists know what questions to ask.
Make Time to Be Strategic
Being a strategic leader is going to be vital to your companies success. Sadly for most young entrepreneurs, the strategy is always last on the list. Solving today’s problems is always first on the list.
If you really want to become more strategic, you need to make time for it. You also need to make it a priority. Delegation is usually critical in this case. When managers complain about not having time to be strategic, ask them to review what they do on a daily basis, select 10 things they can delegate to others, and ask them to use the saved time to strategize.
Strong Leaders Keep It Simple
Unskilled strategists choose complex versus simple. Tactical managers like simple solutions, quick answers, and clear conclusions because it allows them to move quickly to other “here and now” issues.
Strategists enjoy dealing with more complex issues, the unknown and unclear and feel comfortable speculating and projecting various anything-but-simple scenarios.
Good Leaders Are Motivators
When you have a good strategy in place, this allows your business to create that snowball effect which keeps your team motivated.
According to Motivation Ping, many employees and freelancers lose their motivation because they are part of a process that is clunky and lacks good leadership. Your team is only as good as the person who is leading them.
If you want them to keep their motivation so that they deliver their best work, you need to think strategically.
Improve Your Business Acumen
Some managers are very good at what they do, technically speaking. They know their function inside out.
However, they may not know as much about other functions, the business overall, or the industry they are in. Knowing all these things and having a more “generalist” type of approach versus a “specialist” one will help them get closer to having strong strategic skills.
While “strategic” was originally a term borrowed from the military where it meant having an impact outside your own military unit, region, or battle, nowadays almost every business function uses the term strategy to describe its plans, programs, and initiatives.
And while both tactical and strategic initiatives are important, tactical ones will typically have an impact on the respective department or business group, while strategic initiatives will have an impact on the entire organization.
It, therefore, pays to invest in strategic initiatives and ensure leaders develop their strategic thinking cap.