How to Become a Strategic Business Leader
At least once a day, in conversation with my clients, I can be heard saying, “Honor your business.”.
What I mean by that is: Whether you’re a business manager or business owner, it’s your responsibility to pay thoughtful and constant attention to the needs of your business in order to achieve results. If you don’t do it, who will?
Your business needs you to be the strategic leader. And that requires making tough decisions about the systems and processes of getting things done. It demands that you keep your finger on the business’ pulse on a daily basis. And it requires that you continually keep a bird’s-eye view on the overall business needs.
And here’s the biggest deal of all: If you aren’t taking care of the business, and the business falls short, you will never be able to take care of your people. You see, they are counting on you to get it right. If the business’ needs are not being honored, and the business fails to achieve the desired results, no one on the team will truly be able to feel like he or she is part of something great.
To be a strategic leader, it’s necessary to get out of the business’ day-to-day operations. It’s hard to get a meta-view, to see the big picture, of what your business needs when you are stuck in the chaos of activity.
Stephen Covey, who I think is one of the best thought leaders on business management, has done some interesting work on what he calls “getting caught in the whirlwind: being suffocated by the activities of the day job”. Being caught in that whirlwind will prevent you from being able to be the strategic leader of your business. “When you lose to the whirlwind,” says Covey, “it’s your fault. And there are rules for executing in the face of the whirlwind. Four of them to be exact.”
Covey states what these are in his book, which I encourage you to read.
The 4 Disciplines of Execution
Discipline 1 – Focus on the wildly important (goals)
Discipline 2 – Create a compelling scoreboard
Discipline 3 – Translate lofty goals into specific actions
Discipline 4 – Hold each other accountable – all of the time
Setting goals is nothing new. But how often have you set goals only to find them sitting on the counter months later, with no execution? I think the important element here is to focus on what I call the “non-negotiables.” What are those things that have to happen in order to achieve results? Start simple and don’t lose focus on the most important goals for your business.
Having a scoreboard is critical!
I love seeing teams that have visual display boards in the office that everyone can see. If you don’t track your results and make it clear what the target is, how will you ever know when you get there? We work hard every day to achieve results, so make sure everyone knows where you are at all times.
I think what Covey is talking about when he refers to “lofty goals” is taking ideas and making them realities. Breaking things down to specific action steps that are doable will be the only way you achieve results with ease. Who’s doing what, when, and how? This part of execution is one the entire team can influence – collaboratively. As strategic leader, you might have to deliver your company’s objectives and show your team how you are going to track results. But getting the team involved in the action steps to achieve those results takes the accountability game to a whole new level. Getting the team together to strategize is a great way to spend a day or a half-day off campus where you won’t be disturbed, and a great way to strengthen team alliance.
Lack of accountability is the #1 thing that holds us back as teams. Goals, tracking systems, and action plans won’t get us anywhere if we aren’t holding each other accountable all of the time. If you want buy-in from your team members, ask them to create accountability measures with you. Remember, there is no one right way to do this!
In my next article, I’ll talk about the Four P’s of Great Leadership.
I can help build leadership in your team.
Order my book today or contact me at 425-241-4855 to schedule a workshop.