As business organizations grow flatter and expectations on performance increase, leaders are expected to be both personal as well as far-sighted when it comes getting production from point A to point B, in addition to showing growth over the next five or ten years. To do that, five skills are absolutely necessary for consistent success as a strategic leader:
1. The Ability to Align – Savvy leaders realize they frequently need management help to achieve long term goals. That means finding common ground with other managers and programs so that the two together can achieve goals that one program couldn’t master alone. Going at it alone is just a fast way for a manager or business owner to alienate the easiest support possible—internal partners. Instead, by finding benefits that help multiple players at once, a leader’s program can charge ahead as well as cross-train, which is an added advantage.
2. Building an Expanding Skillset – Strategic leaders don’t rest on their past achievements and training. They are able to see new challenges coming down the road that require new knowledge and education. Technology implications are one of the most common areas that frequently require retraining. Managers who stay ahead of the curve are often picked first for taking on new projects as a result. By staying relevant with new demands, strategic leaders solidify a place on the executive radar as the go-to person for critical responsibilities.
3. Having No Fear of Decision-Making – Nothing makes a manager more useless than the inability to decide direction in a timely manner. A leader has the ability to effectively choose a path; stalling takes away from his or her respect among staff and peers. A person can’t be perfect at making the right decision all the time. However, practice, and experience can produce strong decision-making skills when others freeze under stress.
4. The Ability to Interpret and Communicate – Strategic leaders spend a lot of time receiving information, filtering it down to the essential matters, and sending it out to staff effectively to produce results. The communication skills of a leader are as both a collector and distributor of information, which requires a significant ability to interpret messaging correctly and anticipate what it means for the future. Those assumptions then drive decision-making for strategic moves.
5. A Willingness to Challenge and Be Challenged – Smart leaders regularly seek out challenges for themselves and find way to push their staff out of comfort zones. Particularly sensitive to complacency, which can breed failure when performance matters most, strategic leaders look for ways to test and improve their staff’s skillsets repeatedly. That way, when crunch time actually arrives, they have a good comfort level on people’s capability handling important projects.
Strategic leaders don’t settle for minimum achievement today. They are regularly looking forward, anticipating needs, and preparing for new goals tomorrow. That outlook always places these leaders one step ahead of others, and it supports why they are seen as leaders and the go-to people for an organization.