The One Thing That Separates Leaders From Everyone Else
Updated: Mar 9
Hi friends! This is the third in a five-part series on my newly released Promotability Index, launched last month. (In case you missed it, here is a link to our prior issues on Self-Awareness and External Awareness). This information I'm sharing is valuable for your team whether you have taken the assessment or not. Today we are going to focus on Strategic Thinking – the third of the five key leadership elements that help you get promoted. Strategic thinking separates leaders from – well, from everyone else. When done with purpose, it is a demonstrated ability to see and understand the bigger picture: where you are now, where you want to be, and how to get there. You can apply strategic thinking to both your work and your career aspirations to move forward. Strategic thinking takes several components into account, including mission, vision and values, which are outside the scope of this self-assessment. For purposes of promotability, we are focused on the degree to which senior management likely views you as a strategic thinker and does things like asking for your input on major decisions. You need to assess whether you have adopted good habits in terms of applying strategic thinking about your own career as well: are you staying open to a lateral move or identifying and obtaining the necessary skills for your next level role? In simple terms, strategic thinking is the ability to think more broadly than your own immediate tasks. It’s the degree to which you can think in terms of systems, see into the future, recognize interdependencies, assess the pros and cons of a given course of action, and tolerate ambiguity. To some degree, it also incorporates your appetite for risk-taking. There’s really no other capability listed in the Promotability Index that is, to some degree, more difficult to cultivate, because it requires other people to trust you and hand power off to you if you want to build and exercise this muscle. So, what three things can you do in 2020 to exhibit strategic thinking? 1. Make time for it. If there’s one thing most successful CEOs do, it’s block regular time for strategic thinking. (I recommend doing this on a monthly basis, with particular focus at quarterly milestones). Whether meditating in their office or on the golf course, CEOs schedule downtime where they’re not completing business tasks.They make mental space and time to reflect on the big picture - the current state of their progress towards goals, their team dynamic, and obstacles that may arise. They identify gaps in where they are vs. where they want to be, to check and see if they are focused on the right actions and investments. Making this a habit enables pivots and small course corrections and prevents small gaps from becoming big ones.