You Were Told to "Be More Strategic." Now What?
Updated: Feb 11
New leaders are often told to pull out of the weeds of daily work and "be more strategic." Often times, these new leaders were promoted because they were good at being an individual contributor, and may lack experienced in understanding how other parts of the organization work, as we as how all the pieces work together to create a greater whole.
To make matters worse, more experienced leaders may find strategic thinking such a natural skill that they can offer little more advice than "think bigger," "be more strategic," or "look at the whole system." (Or, let's be honest... they may struggle with strategic thinking too).
So what is a new leader to do? Below are a few resources that I typically offer to leaders to orient them to the world of strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is a muscle all of us possess, and it can grow stronger if you know how to work the right muscles.
If you are new leader, I encourage you to check the resources out and follow the steps below to begin building stronger strategic muscles.
If you the manager of a new leader, forward this email on to your new leaders (and maybe check them out too - they are some great ideas!).
Start with Strengthen Your Strategic Thinking Muscles from Harvard Business Review. This article will give you ideas on how to get started.
Write down 2 - 3 ideas from the article. Focus on small changes that you can make in your day-to-day work to build up your strategic thinking skills.
Next dive into these two HBR pieces: Make Strategic Thinking Part of Your Job and 4 Way to Improve Your Strategic Thinking Skills. These articles build on the first and offer you more ideas about how to be more strategic in your role.
Take a look at your list from step 2. What else can you add?
Now for action: Select 2 ideas from your list and try them out for two weeks. Really commit. Flexing a new muscle can be challenging - and you can do it!
You can't promote new leaders based on their individual contributions/specific expertise and then expect them to instantly have strategic skills (unless they started in the strategy department). Small changes can make a big difference over time and can help new leaders make more meaningful contributions more quickly!
Nicole Provonchee is an executive coach and strategist that works with women leaders and teams across the nation. After 20 years climbing the corporate ladder, she started Bright Blue Consulting, where she can combine her skills as a coach with her practical experiences as a leader and executive.