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Coaching high-potential managers and directors to become senior leaders can involve changing some fundamental behaviors that have made them successful in their current role.

When you’ve been rewarded on the basis of your tactical skills, and have executed well by sweating the details, then adopting a broader, more strategic approach might require an uncomfortable mind-shift.

So, how do we, as coaches, help these new leaders shift from a tactical to a more strategic mindset?

Like most behavior change, it begins with looking inward; gaining awareness of your natural tendencies, and ways you interact with others. Armed with that self-awareness, you can self-manage with more focus and determination.

Acquiring a big-picture mentality – keeping those broad strategic imperatives and company aspirations front and center – allows new leaders to guide their activities, communication and leadership approaches more efficiently.

To use a military analogy, “There is the hill we’re being asked to take. Let’s shape the best plan possible to take it in the most efficient and effective way possible.”

Once you’re clear on the company’s broad aspirations and concrete goals, you can then begin to ask other strategy-related questions. Here are a few examples:

  1. Where will we choose to compete, and not compete? The worst strategies are those that attempt to compete on all fronts; that are reacting directly to competing forces, instead of outmaneuvering them. Devoting resources everywhere is a recipe for an ineffective strategy. In this very real sense, a winning strategy must include losing.
  2. How will we win in those areas where we’ve chosen to compete? This is where solid data and industry intelligence comes into play. Knowledge of government regulations, shifts in demographics and new technologies are examples of the kind of information that could inform a winning strategy.
  3. What capabilities are necessary to grow and maintain, in order to win? Do you have the right people? Are time and money being allocated properly in order to win?
  4. What management systems are necessary to operate, to build and maintain these capabilities? Since the strategy may reflect an entirely new direction for the company, what adjustments will you have to make to the infrastructure? What new processes are required to manage results?

Developing a strategic mindset requires taking the time to gather solid data that supports the business case.

Once the plan is determined and the strategy statement is written, you can focus on writing a succinct, impactful and memorable tagline that communicates precisely how the strategy sets you apart from everyone else. That becomes your unique selling proposition…the rally cry that brings all of your resources to bear…that helps direct everyone’s energy toward a successful campaign.

Paul Curci – an Executive Coach with AIIR Consulting, and Principal of the Curci Group – is passionate about studying what creates value and what depletes value in large organizations and complex collaborations. To learn more, check out his full bio here.