Leading people is exciting and inspiring. Formulating strategy?
Not so much.
Almost everyone I meet either wants to start a business, achieve a high level in his or her career or become a success in one shape or the other. But are they all prepared to do what it takes to get there – acquire the knowledge required, develop the strategy and execute it?
I don’t think so!
Formulating a strategy that drives your action (execution) is without doubt the most important component of any success journey.
Without “strategy” the people perish…. isn’t that what the bible says. (Just kidding I know what the bible says, but you get the idea).Strategy is the backbone of every success journey and of every success person I have ever met. If you attended our Executive Insight Leadership Masterclass event with some of the top global influencers and leaders as our speakers you would realise this. Without a strategy your business can drift away from its customers and become uncompetitive within its environment and eventually stops making profit. As a corporate professional, the burden for career growth and progress has shifted more toward the individual responsibility rather than that of the organisation, so the strategy for your career goals and growth is completely in your hands.
Strategy has a military history, going back at least to 600 b.c. with The Art of War by Sun Tzu, (one of my recommended reads). Because of this it has mostly been concerned with competitiveness and how to win a battle with your competitors. For many years competition has been the main stay of strategic literature, with positioning of products, brand, and reputation aim to make the business or industry leader better than the competition and his/her peers.
A good strategy is what gets you that promotion, that boardroom appointment or your product off the shelf and in the trolley of a consumer.
I have been a big proponent of strategic thinking and planning, as most of you might realise. I have always looked at my career and business from a strategic stand point using processes, systems, frameworks and analysis, to help me better decided on the next best move. I have also been a strategist for years working with hundreds of entrepreneurs and corporate leaders to solve problems, manage crisis and build strong reputations.
One thing I have learnt over the years is that strategy is not static or mechanical. It has to be dynamic and fluid, with the ability to change with the environment and competitive landscape.
So as entrepreneurs, CEO and corporate professional you have to become the driver and leader responsible for the strategy – you have to become the strategist.
So what’s your job as a strategist?
As the strategist for your career or business growth, its your job to determine what the brand will be, why it will matter, and to whom. Just saying why you are different isn’t enough. If you’re not different in a way that “matters” to your organisation and customers, then frankly you are not different. Strategy is about doing the right thing, not, doing things right.
Here is a fun exercise you can do to help you determine if you matter. Take a piece of paper and write down the purpose of your job or business. Then describe what the world is like with you and what it would be like without you, and see if there’s a meaningful difference. Showing that what you do connects with the needs of your customer, whether they are internal or external customers, demonstrates that you are different form the other guy and that you “matter”.
Strategy often fails because of a lack of knowledge and understanding of the industry or as I call it “The Game Being Played”. You need to understand what makes your industry and organisation tick. The systems that enable your competition or that brand you aspire to be, to do what they do and how they overcame the difficulties. If you realize that the strategy of who you are and what you’re bringing to market doesn’t work anymore, then you have to either change everything or make changes without changing your core identity.
Strategy is like an open folder on your desk. You should always be thinking about it.
You should have a formal process at least once a year to develop the strategic plan and sets targets for yourself and your people. But that’s not where real strategy is made. As corporate leaders, CEO and entrepreneurs you have to think of strategy as something dynamic and fluid: What is a good idea in 2016 may be a bad idea in 2017. You should be constantly reinterpreting your experiences as they happen.
So it’s not just, do I make a difference? It has to be; Do I or my business make a difference today? To implement a successful strategy you need to be willing and prepared to adapt to changes that are inline with your goals. If you don’t have any goals yet, maybe its about time that you got yourself some help and get a strategist or some training to help you.
Why not attend our next EILM event to learn strategies to grow professionally.