Back in 2012, I had a line manager who once told me:
“If you want to be successful and grow, you will need to become more strategic in your work.”
At first, I thought she did know what she was talking about, but after seeing several colleagues growing in their careers and still standing in one place, I started thinking about these words. Working with several leaders, mentors, and coaches, I soon found what it meant to become “more strategic.” And from then on, I am trying to keep it that way. That brought me to where I am now and will be my guiding motive in the future.
Do you want to become more strategic in your thinking and be recognized as a long-term sustainable partner with others? Then you can follow the rules below to ensure that your review will help the organization sustain strategy in time
Know your organization’s big picture
The first and simplest step is getting out of your role’s comfort zone. People do great work, executing daily tasks connected with their current roles. Few can go out and look at how this current role responds to the bigger picture in the company. So many people talk about the big picture, so few of them can explain what it means. The big picture is the framework of the strategy, set to help the company achieve its long-term goals. And with that in mind, knowing the big picture can be easily associated with the way of thinking meant to create additional value in the process of achieving long-term goals,
Place our function into the bigger vision
By adapting our behaviors, actions, and results, we create developments that impact the company’s structure. But knowing what must be done comes after understanding the framework and seeing how our actions affect our work and others around us. Helping the bigger picture be painted follows after you first understand how your role functions and where it’s placed in the company structure and plan for results. Everyone can easily create more by understanding personal values and following the official schedule.
Engage stakeholders through networking
The third step is engaging the right people to help you create value. No matter what t value you create, if no one sees it, your weight is not worth anything to anyone except you. By engaging the right stakeholders, you get support for what you are doing and want to deliver. Still, you also increase your visibility and the visibility of the impact you create.
Define your purpose before the method. Not how, but why
You get a task, and the first thing that comes to your mind is how to deal with it – right?
That may be the worst scenario to follow, to your surprise. Doing something to compete creates a mechanical response to the environment with less or no meaning.
But what can you change?
Instead of starting with the action, start with the purpose of what you have to do. Ask yourself: “Why do I need to complete this one?”, “To what other results will my actions and results lead?”
By answering those questions, you can transform your way of doing things from mechanical and repeating to purpose and mission-driven. And as much as you can see from the company mission in your tasks and actions, the more engaging they can become for you and the more recognized they will be in the eyes of the senior leadership team as strategic.
Be flexible in executing your plan
Now that you have the mission in your head, you have understood what it means to complete or not complete a particular set of actions and what delivery or non-delivery of results can lead to. So we are done – right?
Well, the short answer here is NO. While building the strategic picture and outcome, we often make at the same time the plan we are going to implement to achieve the goal. In many cases, this plan includes clear steps that, followed directly, can deliver the result in a perfectly ordered environment. But the environment is not perfect, and neither is our plan. And if you try to follow an ideal strategy in an imperfect climate, you will probably lose. Therefore, executing a structured plan must ensure that flexibility tools are included. I mean having several versions of the program (at least three basics) to help you answer the changing environmental circumstances. Building such flexibility helps the plan execution and delivers better results with less stress on the path to success.
Back up your decisions with data
I loved talking about theoretical situations that resulted in my career’s beginning. In my head, they were perfect models in an ideal world where everything was going well. But I learned the hard way, after several rejections of my perfect visions and ideas from senior leadership teams, you need to back it up with information from the real world to win support for the strategy. The models I explained and the tools I wanted to implement were perfect on paper, but some did not work well in a business environment. At first, I imagined a conspiracy against me, that no one understood what I wanted to create for others, and that company owners and leadership teams were mean and double-facing individuals. While in my second year of professional experience, I met a [professor at the university who dramatically changed my vision. In our conversation with her, the professor asked me why people in my work do not support my ideas. After listening carefully to what I said, she asked me again if I would help one of her decisions to implement a clinical psychology test in a commercial company as an assessment tool. I answered NO and then realized what she was talking about. No matter how your proposal looks, if it is not baked with data from the environment and shows success, it seems weak and unworthy to invest in it. So if you want to present a strategy and a way of achieving results that you think will help the company reach its long-term sustainable goals, you need to use verified information from the environment to back it up.
Being a strategic planner and executor is not rocket science, but executing only operational tasks with no vision will only slow the process of delivering excellent results. For example, suppose you want to add real impact to your contribution toward the larger company results framework. In that case, you will need to consider how to correctly back your thoughts in a working and supported strategy.