I work with many of my clients on business strategy. You may think “How can I become a better business strategist?”
You may hear your leader or others say “You need to be more of a strategist” or “Give me more strategy in your presentation”.
What exactly does this mean?
All too often we are operational and firefighting in our roles. We look at what is happening now or in the immediate future, but only on a week-to-week basis. Not giving enough thought to 3, 6 or even 12 months into the future can be limiting and in some cases dangerous for us as an employee, leaders and a business. Gaining the right balance of strategic thinking and operational work is essential to be a successful senior leader.
A paper outlined here showed a direct correlation between an organisation having strategic thinkers as managers and their success. It states:
"One can conclude that an organization will benefit from a considerable success when the extent of strategic thinking of managers is high. Also, when managers undermine or lack the strategic thinking, the organizational success will be decreased considerably. Hence, it is recommended that managers attempt to realize the importance of strategic thinking and try to empower it among themselves."
Here are some self-coaching exercises to help you with your business strategy.
Put time aside for strategic thinking
Ensuring you put some time aside to plan and think about the future is important. Put this in your diary and block this aside to ensure you do this. Even just 1 hour a week will really help rewire your brain to think differently to plan ahead and understand how useful strategic planning and thinking is.
List out the areas of interest you want to work on
This might be business growth - How much and when? Are you going to do this through business development, marketing (social and other), networking, advertising or any other way you can take your messaging to new customers or clients? Who is going to do this and how?
People - Do you need to hire people? How many and when? Who do you need to help you now and in the future? How and where can you find them? What do you need to make this more efficient? A database? Do you need to upskill your current team?
Resources - This could be IT, digital, office space, software or any other resources you will need to ensure you are ready for business growth/ people changes etc. Planning for this in the long term can help you budget and ensure there are no surprises.
Prioritize your strategic areas of interest and create a plan
From the list above work out what you need to work on first and start there with the most important. Then create a goal to achieve for each area and an action plan listing out how you are going to get there with a timeline. Remember to make goals S.M.A.R.T
T. Time Focused
Also, remember to think about every possible potential for your action plan. Positive and negative. Look at risks, positive outcomes and costs. Using a project software program like trello.com to keep track of your plan for you and others can be very helpful and can help keep you and everyone accountable.
The greatest leaders will keep learning to stay ahead of the competition. This can include learning about new procedures, technologies and processes. Also learning about yourself and your strengths and limitations.
Read new/current papers and publications relating to your business/ department to make sure you understand what might be happening in the world which might affect your business.
Think about geopolitical changes and how they may affect your business in the future. Put action plans in place to manage risk and stay competitive.
Do a personal appraisal of your knowledge. Learn about areas you may need to upskill to stay current or your people may want to upskill and create a S.M.A.R.T goal plan to do it.
All of the above is part of strategic planning and will help you become a better business strategist. Future-proofing and protecting yourself, your role in an organisation, and the business itself.
Caroline Langston is the Co-Founder of Successful Consultants Ltd, an Executive, Personal and Career Development Coaching company in Hong Kong and New York. Caroline is dedicated to coaching people for performance success, wellness and happiness in their careers and lives. She is degree qualified with a Certificate in Professional Coaching Mastery. She is also a Professional Certified Accredited Coach (International Coaching Federation), has a Certificate in Team Coaching from the EMCC and further certifications in Neuro Linguistic Programming at Master Practitioner and Coach level. www.successCL.com