Good strategic managers can be separated out from those that are, well, not so good, because they are able to deal with a series of continual and complementary factors that shape their decision making and leadership style.
Since the strategic environment facing any organisation is very unpredictable this creates huge opportunity for success, but poses huge risks that need to be balanced and managed well.
Six skill areas unite excellent Strategic Managers:
- Anticipate: you need to see what is coming on the horizon and need to be vigilant with constant scanning of the environment within which you are operating. Talk to customers and really understand their position, what are the competition doing and plan out scenarios that might impact on the business. What can you glean from successful rivals?
- Challenge: always challenge assumptions and encourage debate amongst your team. Going for the predictable option and having a real lack of innovation can seriously hinder growth and development. Always look for the root-cause of problems and always reality-check your assumptions.
- Interpret: challenging assumptions and areas of perceived wisdom will always throw up complex and conflicting information but the skill here lies with the ability to use and interpret such information. Rethink information into a new framework wherever possible and interrogate data whilst searching for the wider meaning of just what the numbers are telling you.
- Decide: insist on multiple options and never get forced into a one-choice position. Have a disciplined methodology that always balances rigor/speed/trade-offs/short and long terms views.
- Align: find common ground and get support/buy-in among those with clearly different views and opinions. Use carefully designed conversations to identify what people really think and then use this as a source to assist you with making your decision. Always look for the hidden agendas.
- Learn: promote a culture of inquiry and investigation into things that have gone well, and those that have failed. What are the hidden lessons contained within such examples and how/why does this critical information rarely come to the surface immediately?
Apply the above in your leadership journey!
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