As you move up in your career, the tactical execution skills which brought you this far will begin to take a back seat to more strategic skills. So, what can you do to prepare to go from tactical to strategic and start to demonstrate strategic thinking?
Get to know the bigger picture
You are the expert on your projects and work tasks. But how well do you know the rest of the business? Take some time to learn and stay current on the overall strategy of your organization. Stay current on what’s happening locally and globally in your industry. Start paying attention to how external factors impact the organization’s strategy. Spend time with your peers in different roles and departments so you can learn how things work outside your own department.
Less is more
Hone your analysis and synthesis skills. Practice presenting only essential details. Executives rarely want to know nitty details. They want to feel confident the job will get done and the result will be good. They don’t want to be sideswiped by any major issues when it’s too late to do anything about it. It’s easy to get lost in the details, and want to share the at all costs, when you are the expert. Resist lengthy explanations unless you are asked to get into the details.
As you take on increased responsibilities, it can be hard to let go of tasks that you know how to do well. It can be tempting to just knock some things out yourself. But part of every leader’s job is to help other’s learn and grow. Let go of the things which can be delegated, but don’t forget to take the time to teach others what you know. In parallel, there are times when all hands on deck are needed and you should be willing to roll up your sleeves and work beside your team.
Your individual contribution can take you far, but not as far as effective collaboration. Work with your peers in other departments. Learn from them as well as sharing what you know. Seek out opportunities and projects which are cross departmental or cross organizational even. This will provide you with a greater scope of knowledge as well as relationships.
Make the time
It’s easy to get bogged down by the tactical. Moving from tactical to strategic thinking takes time and investment in ongoing learning. Don’t leave it to chance! Block it on your calendar and be disciplined about keeping it.
Get a mentor
Last, but not least, you don’t need to go it alone! Find someone or many someone’s you can learn from. By just listening and observing you can learn a lot from others. Take it further if you find someone whose leadership and strategic thinking you respect and would like to emulate. Ask them if they would be willing to mentor you.
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