Strategic thinking skills differentiate middle-level managers from effective upper level leaders. With excellent strategic thinking skills, the leader is able to make effective decisions that benefit their companies in both the short and long term.
Developing strategic thinking skills requires practice. It requires us to think strategically and see the consequences of our thinking. Three ways to get this practice and develop great strategic thinking skills include:
Hawaiians and other Polynesians are the descendants of peoples who traveled by boat from East Asia to settle their islands. Those most likely to survive the long and arduous journey were those with “thrifty genes”. They were those ancestors who were best able to process and use the limited food on their boat trips. Today, in a world of cheap and plentiful food, these same “thrifty genes” have led to an epidemic of obesity and diabetes among their descendants. What worked in one time may not work in another.
I share this anecdote to drive home the point that “survival of the fittest” does not mean survival of the toughest or meanest in a dog eat dog world. Rather, the survival and success of the fittest requires that we be flexible and adaptive in our leadership focus, style, and vision depending on the needs of the marketplace and our companies. Continue reading
Even as leaders, we all have bosses. Perhaps, it is a Vice-President. Perhaps, it is the CEO. Perhaps, it is the Board of Directors.
To move our companies forward, we need to be good (but not mindless) followers to our good bosses.
Support the Boss
The success of any organization requires that everyone is rowing in the same direction. So, our job as followers is to ensure that we devote ourselves to following and supporting the direction in which our boss is taking us. This means supporting their key initiatives and doing what is required to further the goals and objectives of our boss.
In corporate America, approximately $100 billion is spent each year on training. Yet, many studies show that training is only 10% – 15% effective. As Harvard Business School Professor Michael Beer writes, this is…
the great training robbery
Yet, training is a vital part of developing a winning team. So, how can we do training right?
Keep It Simple… Keep It Small… Keep It Focused
Training is only useful when it can be put into action and change our thoughts and behaviors. The best way to do this is to change one habit at a time. As such, our training goals need to be modest and focused on one (or at absolutely most, three) specific concepts at a time. In addition, the trainer needs to be explicit about how the training relates to the trainee’s job and how the training can be put into action.
To run our businesses more effectively, most documents and reports in our businesses (including summaries, plans, reviews, and analysis) should be kept to one page.
Businesses are awash in information, specifically reports, analysis, weekly updates or reviews, which are rarely read and, even more seldom, acted upon. As an example, the one page Executive Summary is a relic of the past, now replaced by Executive Summaries of 3 – 5 pages or even longer. Such long reports or analyses are time-consuming to write and usually too complex to translate into actionable steps to move our companies forward
“Abraham Lincoln said that people think that the real test of a person’s character is how they deal with adversity. A much better measure of a person’s character is to give them power. I’ve been more often disappointed with how people’s character is revealed when they’ve been given power.” Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria
As leaders, we have power. We have the power to direct and lead others; we have the greater power in all of our interpersonal relations. This power requires us to be even more attentive in our interpersonal relations to ensure that we do not abuse this power, but instead that we are as effective as possible in developing open, positive, two-way communication with our teams.
So, what can we do to develop strong interpersonal relations with the people who work for us?
“The world is changing faster than ever before.”
“We need to adapt to the change or we will get run over by it.”
“The paradigm has shifted and the world will never be the same.”
“Robotics and AI (Artificial Intelligence) will disrupt every industry and company on the planet.”
The hype from the media about the change happening in the world is nearly overwhelming. As such, many of us live in fear that we and our businesses are not changing fast enough.