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Four Keys of Strategic Leadership

Updated: Jun 6, 2020

“It seems like we’re working harder and harder, but we’re still not winning. Our teams are disconnected, turnover is up, and our investment partners are breathing down our necks asking for more and more. We’re driving fast, but it seems like we’re just spinning our wheels. I just don’t know what to do anymore.”

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been part of a conversation like this with CEOs of businesses of all sizes and industries. It’s a daily struggle for leaders to inspire their teams toward a goal what is mutually shared, mutually embraced and allows everyone to win. 

The desire is there…but too often the next steps to take aren’t clear. Working harder doesn’t solve the problem. The key is to streamline focus on the areas that bring the greatest value and ensure that everyone in the organization understands and embraces the direction and what it takes to win. You don’t have to make it complicated, but you do need to be intentional. So, if you want to take your leadership and organization success to a whole new level, here are the four keys to strategic leadership.

First, you need to ALIGN your company culture.

Mission, vision, values, norms of behavior and beliefs are not just nice to have. They are critical for building a strong foundation for any business. These allow you to create a crystal clear picture to answer the questions: 

  • Who we are? 

  • Why we’re here? 

  • What’s most important to us? 

  • How are we going to live and work together? 

  • What makes us different?

  • Who will we serve?

When everyone is able to answer these questions, you’re on the way to being able to narrowly focus on what’s truly most important.

Next, you will ENGAGE your teams. 

When people feel they are part of something special, their commitment soars. Knowing how each person contributes and makes a difference toward achieving the culture and goals is key to engagement. According to Bersin by Deloitte, “employee engagement has become the top issue on the minds of business leaders, directing us to an entirely new model of management”. But what does employee engagement even mean? At the core, engagement is proactively and passionately adding value while aligning with the company mission and goals. I call it line of sight. When your people know their purpose in the organization and how they make a difference, amazing things happen. Engagement, at the most basic, is the bridge to connect heart with results. 

Third comes EXECUTE your strategy, goals, and priorities.

Many individuals within organizations are working really hard but don’t know if their work is adding real value on the RIGHT things. That’s why I developed a robust Strategic Roadmap to help bring clarity to the most important areas of focus. The key is to start broad and narrow down. 

  • I recommend taking planning horizon to no more than three years for strategy. With the rapid change  being experienced today, often trying to look out more than three years is just unrealistic. 

  • Then, you’ll narrow your focus to annual goals: what are the 3-5 things we need to accomplish this year to support our strategic objectives. 

  • Next, you’ll consider quarterly priorities: those areas of focus we need to knock out of the park to accomplish out annual goals. 

  • Finally, you need to determine quarterly actions by functional area so everyone know’s their part.

The implementation of structured, repeatable strategic planning approach allows the ability to clearly identify what’s most important and execute with speed, focus and precision.

Finally, you'll create the ability to continually and consistently EVALUATE your results.

We’ve all heard the quote if you can’t measure it you can’t manage it. By evaluating results through financial performance or key performance indicators which are unique to your business or functional area, you’re able to know beyond a doubt if you are winning. If you are, awesome!! Celebrate and keep pressing forward. If not, this allows the ability to engage in strategic discussions to chart a course to do start doing something different. Many companies who don’t have structured processes and systems to evaluating results don’t realize challenges until it’s too late. But, by making evaluating a core part of your strategic leadership, you’re able to respond appropriately and quickly and keep progress toward achieving your strategic results.

What would it be like for you and your company if everyone was aligned, everyone was engaged, everyone was working toward common objectives, goals and priorities, and everyone knew the scorecard and the results that were most important? 

Strategic leadership isn’t hard but it does require intentional focus. By building these four keys into your leadership and organization, you’ll soon unlock success like you’ve never experienced before. Then, you never have to be in a situation again where you say, "We’re driving fast, but it seems like we’re just spinning our wheels. I just don’t know what to do anymore.”

That’s strategic leadership at it’s finest!

Live. Love. Lead. Leave a Legacy!

Dr. Jason

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