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Leadership Today - Practical Tips For Leaders

May 27, 2022


Have you ever received the feedback that you need to “be more strategic”? We pick apart what this might mean for your development.


Welcome to episode 139 of the Leadership Today podcast where each week we bring research to life in your leadership. This week we explore what it means to be more strategic.

As I coach and work with a range of people, it’s amazing how often people share they’ve received feedback that they need to be more strategic. They’re typically no more clear about it than that - just that they’ve been told to be more strategic. 

If this sounds like you, the first advice I give is to setup time with the person who provided the feedback to better understand what they meant. In a non-challenging way, ask for examples. Have them describe what being more strategic would look like in your role. This is likely to draw out a clearer picture of what you should be working on and the impact it is having on your performance.

I believe there are four main areas where we can all be more strategic. That being strategic is about time horizon, breadth of focus, interpersonal consideration and openness to new ideas. Let’s take a look at each of these.

  1. Being more strategic could be about the time horizon you bring to your work. We can all end up not looking far enough into the future, particularly when we’re under pressure. We all have a tendency to focus on immediate threats, rather than longer-term threats and opportunities. Take time to look and plan further out into the future.

  2. Being more strategic could be about the breath of your focus. Sometimes we can become too narrowly focused on our own interests or areas of expertise. Take the time to look more broadly beyond your specialisation. What are people doing in other industries or geographies? What broader trends are playing out in business and society? A great way to do this is to read more widely. If you find yourself reaching for the same kind of reading material, branch out. Ask for recommendations from others. Meet with people with different professional backgrounds and speak to them about emerging trends they are seeing.

  3. Being more strategic could be about Interpersonal consideration. Sometimes we don’t take enough time to take others’ needs and interests into account. We can then end up blind-sighted when our brilliant plan is opposed. Build connections across your organisation and run your ideas past others to gather their views and feedback. Ask for advice. You don’t have to just take on everything they say, but it’s much better to be genuinely interested and informed.

  4. Being more strategic could be about openness to new ideas. Those who are seen as not being strategic can often be caught up in the past or the current way of doing things. They may oppose change, even when the change is inevitable or likely to be beneficial. A great quality and practice here is curiosity. Rather than seeking to respond to others’ ideas right away, stay curious and ask lots of questions.

Take some time this week to examine how strategic you’re being across these four areas. Have a great week.