How to Build a Team that Thinks Strategically
Getting Your Team to the Next Level of Performance
Recently, a client asked for support in getting her team to think more strategically.
This year, Sandra took on a strategic growth initiative at her CEO’s request that requires a new level of skill, accountability, and client interaction from everyone on her team. Serving their enterprise level clients at this high standard will mean understanding rapidly evolving and complex issues. That means her team will need to do more than react to customer complaints.
How can you get talented team members with little experience in strategic thinking to build this vital skill?
How can Sandra get talented team members with little experience in strategic thinking to build this vital skill?
First, she can help her team to understand the difference between strategy and tactics. To do this, Sandra compared two relevant scenarios. The first involved responding quickly to billing errors made on the number of software licenses used by a client. She pointed out that solving such problems is a tactical but necessary part of their jobs.
The second scenario related to a challenging goal Sandra set for the team: Become conversant and insightful about the issues their clients encounter in running their businesses. It will take time to achieve this goal and a view to building long-term relationships and solutions for their clients. However, it’s a perfect example of the strategic thinking Sandra wants to foster.
A great boss can help team members understand how their primary job objectives support overall company goals.
Next, she can help her team see their job “mission” through the eyes of the CEO. In other words, she can help each team member understand the job’s core mission or critical reason for existing.
A great boss can help team members understand how their primary job objectives support overall company goals by having them ask themselves:
- How do you add value to the company?
- What part of your work has the most significant positive impact?
- How do you help the company make money, save money, or both?
Asking great questions can help foster a deeper understanding of individual roles as well as the strategy of the company.
As each team member finds goods answers to these first questions, Sandra can continue the conversation by asking further questions. These questions can help foster a deeper understanding of individual roles as well as the strategy of the company:
- How can you ensure your short- and long-term job goals align with the priorities of the C-Suite?
- How can you align your daily decision-making and actions to address both the tactical and strategic?
As the team becomes comfortable with thinking more strategically about their jobs, Sandra can broaden the conversation with these questions:
- What trends have you spotted with our clients and within our company?
- Which trends are positive and forward thinking?
- Which could hinder the progress of our clients and company?
All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved.
– Sun Tzu, Chinese General and Philosopher
As a leader, Sandra is helping her team develop their ability to think strategically. She wants a team that questions the status quo and thinks about better ways to solve client issues. She knows that the tactical, day-to-day work has to be done to survive; but for her company to thrive, strategic thinkers are a must.