Mastering Your Strategic Leadership Skills.
What are strategic skills? Here’s a terrific definition from the Harvard Business Review:
“Strategic skills are the abilities to anticipate, challenge, interpret, decide, align and learn. An adaptive strategic leader is someone who is both resolute and flexible, persistent in the face of setbacks but also able to react strategically to environmental shifts—has learned to apply all six at once.”
Here are some techniques I employ to develop these skills:
Rule #6: Find Good Mentors Who Uplift You
Have your personal board of advisors. It’s okay to have more than one!
I have three mentors:
One whose communication style I love
One within my work group who knows the players to help me problem-solve
One outside my organization to whom I can vent
Mimic a quality of your mentor that you aspire to e.g communication style, negotiation approach, consensus building, etc.
Even leaders need mentors; you cannot succeed at work without them
Rule #7: Don’t Apologize
…especially if you are a woman. Saying “I’m sorry” has become almost a nervous tic.
Whatever you do, do it with confidence
Be vulnerable. Contrary to popular belief truest measure of strength is in allowing oneself to be vulnerable.
Rule #8: Focus on Consensus-Building, Not Doing-It-Alone
You may have the greatest idea in the world in a brainstorming meeting, but don’t shove it down your co-workers’ throats; rather, nudge your colleagues to think in your direction
Remember: When everyone works together as a team, it’s also a win for you
Be open to different views from your own
Rule #9: Be Prepared for Meetings
Being unprepared shows laziness and disrespect
Always walk in knowing the context of the conversation
Ask questions (see Rule #3); being silent can be deadly
Don’t get thrown off by those eager-beavers who hijack meetings
Rule #10: Never Eat Alone
If you see a group dining together, approach and simply say, “May I join you?”
Adopt a “never eat alone” mindset and invite your leaders or bosses for a bite
Tips on how to recruit for your personal board of advisors? What I look for:
Understands your goals and objectives
Understands the bigger picture--helps you find the missing puzzle to complete the big picture
Is familiar with your environment or can easily adapt their experience and draw parallels to yours
Is compassionate, empathetic and discreet. You need to feel comfortable confiding in your mentor without fear of professional backlash
Listens well-not exactly your 2am friend but when you do need to speak to them, they listen to understand and not listen to respond
Is invested in your success-their personal brand would be reflected in your success fabric
Shows you different perspectives--shows you glass half full when you are adamant that it is half empty
Has traversed a journey you'd like to emulate. It is helpful knowing your mentor has gone through similar struggles and understands yours
Can help you be a better version of yourself--(that is the ultimate goal)
My personal board of advisors is made up of leaders who belong to professional fields separate from mine. They are trailblazers, social influencers, and corporate champions. This mix of experience and personalities provides me a vantage point of looking from the outside in--in to my world.
What are the qualities you most cherish in your mentors?