Make that Shift! From Operational to Strategic Leader

As we discussed in our last blog post, it’s not that being an operational leader is bad; it’s that strategic leaders have a broader perspective that enables them to accelerate results, drive exciting change, and be truly innovative.

According to Forbes, one of the most critical skills for leaders today is the ability to see the big picture and think more strategically. Becoming a more strategic leader is essential to navigate ongoing change, complexity and ambiguity. Being a strictly operational leader is no longer an option.

So, how can you make that shift from operational leader to strategic leader?

5 Steps to Make that Shift

  1. Change your perspective. Rather than only thinking short-term and focusing on what’s right in front of you, consider long-term, big-picture questions. This will expand your thinking and help you gain a broader perspective.

  2. Change your focus. Challenge yourself to extend your focus beyond your immediate circle. Incorporate the wider organization and/or industry into your thought processes. Move past your immediate team or department.

  3. Be proactive, not reactive. Anticipate and address potential issues, rather than reacting to short-term problems. You can begin to “get ahead of the curve” by building time in each week to be more proactive and strategic.

  4. Be strategic, not myopic. Think beyond individual projects and deadlines and see larger connections between projects, teams and business units. This will allow you to generate better solutions and accelerate results.

  5. Be the source of change. Don’t just manage change as it arises. Identify required change early and often. By anticipating change, you can get ahead of it and be at its helm.

Once you become a strategic, rather than an operational, leader, you’ll find yourself in a more innovative, creative space. You’ll be able to see the big picture, and not only anticipate potential problems, but take the initiative to enact positive, exciting change.

And who doesn’t want to enhance their perspective, create more impact, and have more professional success?

If you’re ready to be a more strategic leader, explore our new online course Building Strategic Leadership.

Weekly Uplevel Practice

Last week you identified three areas in which you were functioning operationally and not strategically. To build on that practice and help you make the shift, remember your three areas of operational leadership, and consider how you might apply the 5 strategies above to approach one, two, or even all three of them more strategically!