Are You the Answer to the Leadership Gap?

Improving Strategic Thinking without Boiling the Ocean


Your CEO has asked you to take on big goals that could improve your company’s standing in the market and help you stay ahead of the competition. Taking on those big goals means there is a lot at stake for your company, your team, and by extension, for you.

After all, your industry moves fast, your customers have complex issues to solve, and your company has been more reactive than strategic these past few years. That leaves you in a vulnerable spot. You will be expected to execute on your goals without excuses and likely will be held accountable for issues not of your making.

the answer to the leadership gapSome days it feels like you are trying to boil the ocean.

You are not alone. According to the Global Leadership Forecast 2018, published by DDI, The Conference Board, and EY, developing the next generation of leaders is the top concern of 64% of C-level executives surveyed. What’s more, the survey points to the need for effective leaders who can address rapid change and complex problems in order for companies to succeed.

Would it help if you could step back just long enough to determine the best areas to address first? Imagine what would happen if you could create a positive, “cascading effect” that would address multiple issues.

Take Sally, for instance. As the Director of Data Analytics, she had believed in the mission, values, and product of her company since joining over five years ago. When a new CEO joined the company last year, the company mission statement had been tucked away and forgotten. Senior management had drifted away from speaking about the mission in a way that everyone could understand and live by on a daily basis.

Meanwhile, Sally’s team was often asked to provide reports used jointly by Finance, Product Development, Sales, and Marketing. Unfortunately, these teams were notorious for sniping at one another. That made it difficult to gather requirements and build meaningful reports.

Sally had come to terms with the CEO’s dismissive attitude regarding the company mission statement. However, she also realized she could become an influencer among the C-Suite, if only she could overcome her natural reticence about presenting her ideas.

Sally took small steps at first, including presenting her ideas to someone in the C-Suite who was trustworthy and open to new ideas. That person was Joe, the VP of Product Development. She presented innovative ways to use data analytics and product testing that tied directly to enhanced revenue and profit margins.

It took a series of individual meetings with others in the C-Suite, but over a period of months, Sally’s ideas were recognized and adopted. Getting a promotion was no accident; rather, it was part of a systematic strategy and internal campaign accompanied by learning how to take credit (without being a jerk).

Sally did several things right. She returned her focus to a meaningful mission, and imparted that purpose to her team. She got out of her comfort zone and learned new leadership skills. She built trusted relationships selectively and strategically and worked across departmental lines.

Within her own department, Sally can now dust off the company mission and influence the culture of her team, and her peers in leadership. First, she had to identify the small steps that could lead to bigger successes.