5 Ways To Develop Your Strategic Leadership
What's on your To-Be List today as Leaders?
With the ever-changing pace of technology in business right now, the advancement in our work and the rate of change is quicker than ever before. And with reductions in time-intensive tasks and roadblocks, comes the need to elevate our leadership strategies to keep pace with such change.
Our business agility as leaders is being tested frantically as a result of optimising our business models, driving transformations, and being disruptors before being disrupted – all the while leading our staff to success. Yet, the old management techniques of "task delegation and to-dos" are not resonating with our modern and highly emotionally-intelligent staff of 2019.
The main problem in this situation is that with emerging technologies, it makes the decision-making process harder when you're trying to make considerations in areas that don't have a clear preferred option. Brains and people like certainty, so as a leader trying to understand how to provide certainty and respond to external factors (including mitigating risks, with unknown repercussions in a fast-changing technological climate) can make being sure of yourself a taxing task.
Scrap the To-Do List and Action the To-Be List
When you're experiencing uncertainty as a leader, it's important to focus on factors that you have power over and identify the factors that are beyond your control. When leaders scrap the To-Do List and work on their To-Be List, they provide certainty for their team in this fast-changing climate. Essentially, we can't always be certain about the "What", but as leaders, we can be certain about the "How" and the "Why". Our leaders need to be actively demonstrating in meetings, during constructive critiques or even during our lunch break, the behaviour that they want to see their people displaying. If the CEO walks past a piece of rubbish in the hallway, it shows staff that keeping their office space clean is below them; a behaviour that can result in a lack of respect resonating through tiers of employees - pick up that piece of rubbish and show staff that you don't mind rolling up your sleeves.
Ask Yourself the Hard Questions
This is the paramount tactic of authentic values-based leadership – are you "Being" with certainty? Have you set up the environment for success for your team based on a strong purpose to which you are aligned? Do you have a clear set of values and standards around delivering them? Does your belief system support the direction of the business?
When you start asking yourself questions, it brings the focus to how we are "Being", rather than what we are "Doing". And when there are problems in the "Doing" (i.e execution issues, or un-resourceful people conflicts), it's often because we don't have clear consistent answers to these questions.
Develop a Strong Value-Based Business Strategy
Further than your classic ROI driven business strategy, let's consider a strong purpose to which you and your business are aligned. Working with your business executive peers to develop a strong business "Why", creates a culture that understands itself on a deeper level, more than just what is achieved task wise. Then check in and ask, does your team understand how each of their roles contributes to this overarching "Why?" Both in terms of the work they do and the behaviours they use to get the work done?
It's also important to identify what gets you out of bed in the morning and excited to take on the world, further than just your personal life. How your work contributes to how you personally align with this overarching set of values can reinforce the importance of the work being done.
Then Implement That Value Mindset Into Your Team
Values are simply what are important to us, consciously or unconsciously. A good test is to look at where you (or the business) spend time and money as that is generally what we consider to be important.
For this reason, it is also crucial to set standards of behaviour around values. We may state the value of Safety for example, but the moment a leader is witnessed walking past an unsafe act without challenging because "they were in a hurry", a standard eroding moment has occurred, and the environment suffers. Set higher standards for yourself to ensure consistency within the organisation and your people.
Check In With Yourself And Your Team
It's interesting to check in with yourself to see if you truly believe in the direction of your business and its ability to get there. If you're not actively doing this, your team can pick up on it and reflect the attitude. The majority of our communication is non-verbal, and these tricky little beliefs will sneak through you and create uncertainty in our people. Choose your beliefs to serve and support you. If it serves and supports you as a leader to believe in the business' direction, because it provides certainty for your team, choose that.
Having a strong aligned purpose, a clear set of values and standards, and a supportive belief system means that as leaders we are actively living a "To-Be" leadership style, which encourages our teams and the people around us to rely on the businesses "Why", which develops our teams bonds further, injects confidence and shows we're fully engaged in strategic leadership.
So, in your start-up or company, make sure you're looking at the bigger management and leadership picture and start using a "To-Be" attitude to develop your strategic leadership and ultimately, set your team up for constant future business success.