Posted on 19/03/2013 by Jesus Garcia Martin
When you started up your company the chances are there was just you and your partner(s) and you did whatever had to be done, but to grow you have to employ people. Learning to delegate is not easy and many company owners find it difficult to relinquish the daily tasks, but there comes a time for you to “be strategic.” What does that mean?
Defining “being strategic,” is not easy because it does not sound like a proper job. As the boss you deal with what you see what appears to be urgent, but that is a mistake you need to be looking further ahead. You are there to find ways to drain the swamp not fight the alligators that lurk in it and if you keep concentrating on the day-to-day you will miss opportunities.
Every government, economy, business pundit says we need strategic leaders, right down to the SMEs, but nobody really tells you what it means or what you are supposed to do. Most of what we learn we learn from others – listening, looking, talking and, if you have any sense reading; thinking about what you are trying to achieve. Driving a car you look ahead but if you lack peripheral vision you will miss signals which will warn you of danger. Driving a company forward is not much different you need to keep an eye on your rivals, and the ones in the rear view mirror. In today’s ‘global village’ you need to be looking beyond borders, to watch for innovation and change that may well affect your industry and to build a wide and diverse network of good contacts.
Each day brings new choices, which is great, but choices can spell danger if you do not evaluate all possibilities. Be prepared to reject some, understand and question the sources of data and weigh up the solutions. It is not about an easy fix but standing fast to what you believe and encouraging others to do the same. Uncertainty is unsettling and decisions must be made. Behaving like every other player in the market will not give you a competitive edge, and successful leaders do take risks but not before evaluating and questioning everything. Strategic thinking demands courage, challenging the status quo and changing mind-sets, influencing organisational decisions and examining existing beliefs, including your own, whilst at the same time not being afraid of criticism.
Seldom will you find you have all the facts, and too much analysis leads to confusion but you have to be analytical, flexible, and quick-thinking with what you have and decide upon a course of action. Leadership requires the ability to be resolute when others may hold differing opinions. Encouraging key players to participate in open dialogue may at times be essential to get necessary support and that’s when uncomfortable issues need to be brought into the open. Building trust where there are divergent opinions requires understanding other people’s agenda. Encouraging honest feedback as the company grows, while being aware of hypocrisy and cronyism demands accepting your failures as well as success. Rewarding the latter whilst being open enough to acknowledge and learn from the former are essential qualities for any strategic leader.
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