‘Strategic’ is probably one of the more overused words in the workplace and it isn’t always clear what this looks like in action. But being strategic is important to how impactful you become. Here are some suggestions on how to cultivate a strategic way of working.
Don’t react equally to everything: Because not everything is important or deserves attention. Don’t plunge straight into things without stopping to assess whether you need to take action or not, or indeed what action to take. Avoid reacting immediately. Focus on the few things that will deliver the best result and make sure your work delivers what is most useful to those it benefits.
Don’t get wrapped in the small things: Have a goal that you are driving toward. Stay knowledgeable about the key things your organisation is implementing or driving forward and stay involved. Don’t look at issues in isolation but develop the broader organisational understanding that helps you identify where to invest your time, energies, skills and insights. Avoid simply performing functions; consider the broader picture.
Keep evolving to meet business needs. Don’t be a relic expecting the organisation to meet you where you are. You’ll fizzle out. Don’t just focus only on the now and what’s directly ahead. Know what is changing and tune how you work so that your role becomes what your organisation needs it to be. Know what to get better at; because you cannot afford to remain the same. You cannot keep up good work without growing. And you cannot be part of any transformational activity if you keep doing everything the same way you’ve always done it.
Don’t allow the means to overtake the ends: Keep your eye on your end goal and measure the right things at the right level along the way. Have meaningful measures not measures that are simple but don’t tell you much about how you are doing. Protect yourself against urgent demands that take you off course. Focus on reinforcing what you need to achieve your targets.
Stay courageous with conversations: Because playing nice or safe when you need to make critical shifts will keep you in a rut. Face up to basic questions such as what’s not working, what specifically has to be fixed and what will be the fallout if you don’t deal with what needs tackling. Being strategic calls for not missing the opportunity to do what needs doing, when it needs doing or indeed creating the space to do so.
Now take action: How fit are you for what your role needs to evolve?