Words, Ideas, Stuff
Some ideas and thoughts, captured with the view to help you.
27/1/2017 0 Comments
Loved this article in HBR which started off with this “If you’ve ever received feedback that you “need to be more strategic,” you know how frustrating it can feel. To add insult to injury, the feedback rarely comes with any concrete guidance on what to do about it.”
We will get to the ‘what to about it’ bit, but first need to focus on why this is an area for you to ‘bulk’ up your skills in.
Work and jobs are usually focused on small, measurable, short term achievements, and therefore reward and recognition are designed to kick in at the completion of tasks. There is often little financial reward for the ability to map the way forward, yet balancing both is crucial for success and seeing the end game and the factors that influence this, is a skill highly valued and rarely taught.
It’s also the skill set most needed if you’re facing unknown territory! Not just in a traditional work place way, but when you’re planning your future as a musician, parent, traveller etc. - the ability to see the end goal, weigh up the risk and reward, understand the factors that will contribute to reaching the end goal, figuring out the game plan to get there and weighing up tasks and making decisions on a daily basis …. Phew …. That’s a lot to handle, no wonder it’s a sought after skill set!
Here’s a great description of what strategic thinking is, from NST Insights:
“Strategic thinkers consistently ask why and when. They gather information. They solve problems objectively. They innovate. They plan ahead. They adjust. They recognize how their actions affect other departments, the company as a whole, customers, etc., not just now, but long term.”
How do you build strategic thinking ability?
The smart crew at HBR also raise a great point about making sure your communication style sees you come across as a strategic thinker – no point honing the skills and becoming really competent at thinking strategically, if that isn’t translated to getting your perspective across or how others perceive you. Here’s a some hot tips on how to ensure your comms reflect that awesome thinking:
Share below any tips you have too as this is an area we can all keep developing and strengthening ...
Firstly, what are soft and hard skills?
Hard skills – specific knowledge or ability, clear, defined, understood by many, can be learned easily through training or studying.
Soft skills – subjective, change, context dependant, harder to clearly define, learn the concepts and then develop the skills through ‘doing’, more about EQ and your own behaviour.
Research conducted by Harvard University, the Carnegie Foundation and Stanford Research Center has concluded that 85% of job success comes from having well-developed soft and people skills, and only 15% of on-the-job success actually comes from technical skills and knowledge (which are the hard skills. You need the hard skills to get your application through to ‘pass go’ and get to the interview stage, as many recruiters and HR managers will be scanning for specific skills, experience and education – all focused on hard skills.
Great quote “While hard skills may get your foot in the door, soft skills will keep you there”
Hard skills give you the basis to take on specific roles and tasks, the soft skills are the ones that differentiate you from the crowd. Its these skills that boost your leadership and relationship building capability, and therefore often lead to high performance. Through formal education and training, the focus will be on building those tangible hard skills but the real potential is to develop and refine your soft skills.
Forbes reports on a study undertaken on 260 employers (including Chevron and IBM) and found the following five soft skills to be the most valuable in employees, in order of importance:
1. Ability to work in a team structure
2. Ability to make decisions and solve problems
3. Ability to communicate verbally with people inside and outside an organization
4. Ability to plan, organize, and prioritize work
5. Ability to obtain and process information
Here’s some more soft skills to get acquainted with! Make sure your personal training and development plans focus on developing these too:
There are countless articles and documents espousing how to be a great leader, the virtues of what makes a great leader and loads of tips and tricks on how to achieve this (yawn) so let’s not cover old ground. We also know that the tactics and skills that get us to where we are, may not get us to where we want to go.
Here’s a few fresh ideas to think about, when you think of leadership this year:
What is leadership to you? At it’s core, it is living life on your terms and empowering others to do the same. What does that actually mean though – how do you ‘do’ leadership? You need to know what life on your terms looks and feels like – is it full time study/parenting/working/travelling, or only a few hours each week doing some or all of these things? Is it writing a book? Leading a team in sport? When you know what floats your boat, that energy gives you momentum and inspires others.
Don’t be afraid to be the leader nor to invest time in being the best leader you can be. You can be humble, hardworking and a great leader – it’s not about being the person under the spotlight if that’s not your style. Being a leader is about being fearless at pursuing what you want, and doing that in your own style. But never apologise for killing it!
One leadership style doesn’t suit all people or all situations – just like you adapt your driving style to the road conditions, do the same with your leadership style. Sometimes you’ll need to be at the front of the pack navigating the way, other times you’re the cheerleader on the side lines, sometimes you’re keeping the home fires burning while the team is out, and sometimes it’s all up to you. It changes. Keep your eyes up and looking at what’s coming up and consciously choose the best style for the situations that arise.
Give it to your self. This isn’t a ‘maybe’ or ‘nice to have’ – its as essential to your wellbeing and productivity as water and air. We all know we need 8 glasses of water a day, 5 servings of fruit and veg … how much better would we be, if we knew we had a benchmark to meet for downtime? Life is frantic, we’re hyper connected, book time to disconnect – you all know why, now it’s time to do it.
Charge others with #GSD (getting sh!t done) and the best way to do this is turn into a ‘coach’ or investigator … ask your crew a tonne of open questions (who, what, when, how, why) to help them build a solid game plan, that you can support them with, and know they’ve got a rock solid chance of hitting the target. We all love it when someone shows genuine interest, asks questions and helps us define things. Practice being the best question-asker out there! This works for everyone you’re engaging with, and is a super tactic for having conversations with teenagers!
The definition of create is “Bring something into existence” or “Form out of nothing”. Leave a legacy, chart a new path, smash the ‘but that’s how we’ve always done it’, create a new monthly ‘date night’ with your besties, develop a new family routine … creating isn’t just about beautiful art or physical things, its about forming something that didn’t exist before. We all have hundreds of great ideas each week – pick one and make it happen! Imagine it’s February a year from now, and this new thing is now part of your life – you’ll be stoked you did it now.