I was struck by this article by Paul Shoemaker on the “6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers”. It all makes sense and I am sure most good leaders will know this stuff – at least they will when they are away from the thick of the action.
So, what are the 6 habits effective leaders should form to get strategic?
- Think Critically
A good list (for more detail on what’s behind each item go to the article
) to add to any leader’s toolkit. However, we all have “espoused” theories, and usually they are pretty sound. The problem comes when we start trying to put them into action. What we then see are “behaviours in practice”, which more often than not are quite different from what we say we should or would do
The one additional habit I would add, is STAND BACK and OBSERVE.
This has been expressed in a number of ways by different people. One analogy I like is that of observing the dance-floor from the gallery. Every now and then it makes sense to stop dancing, and observe the dancers from the gallery. Watch their movement, the patterns they make, spot the crowded parts of the floor and watch for the different ways people are dancing. What can you learn? Then, when you rejoin the dance, you will do so with new knowledge, with a fresh perspective, and with strategies to put in to practice.
Another useful way to think about it is to consider the job of a General in the midst of a battle, with his men engaged in hand-to-hand combat. While a ‘heroic’ General may feel they should lead by example and be engaged in the thick of the battle with his men, a more strategic Leader will remove himself further up the hill to observe what is going on across the wider terrain. In doing so, he may notice that he has too many men engaged on the left flank, he may spot a break-away arm of the enemy seeking to circle his troops on the right flank, he may also determine that the opposition are looking depleted in number through the middle. Having stood back and observed, he is now better equipped to put a new strategy into place.
So, the next time you find yourself in the middle of the battle, or on the very crowded dance-floor of office politics, consider standing back and just observing. You don’t even have to do this physically. You can remain in the room, or even at the table, but adopt a different sense of being. Rise above the scene and look down and observe. You will return to the fray better equipped.
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