Adaptive strategic leaders — the kind who thrive in today’s uncertain environment – do six things well:
Most of the focus at most companies is on what’s directly ahead. The leaders lack “peripheral vision.” . To anticipate well, you must:
- Look for game-changing information
- Search beyond boundaries
- Build wide external networks
“Conventional wisdom” opens you to fewer raised eyebrows and second guessing. Critical thinkers question everything.
- Reframe problems to get to the root cause
- Challenge current beliefs and mindsets, including your own
- Uncover hypocrisy, manipulation, and bias in decisions
Ambiguity is unsettling. A good strategic leader holds steady, synthesizing information from many sources before developing a viewpoint.
- Seek patterns in multiple sources of data
- Encourage others to do the same
- Question prevailing assumptions and test multiple hypotheses simultaneously
Many leaders fall prey to “analysis paralysis.” You have to develop processes and enforce them, so that you arrive at a “good enough” position.
- Carefully frame the decision to get to the crux of the matter
- Balance speed, rigor, quality and agility
- Take a stand even with incomplete information and amid diverse views
Total consensus is rare. A strategic leader must foster open dialogue, build trust and engage key stakeholders, especially when views diverge.
- Understand what drives other people’s agendas
- Bring tough issues to the surface
- Assess risk tolerance and follow through to build the necessary support
As your company grows, honest feedback is harder and harder to come by. You have to do what you can to keep it coming. This is crucial because success and failure–especially failure–are valuable sources of organizational learning.
- Encourage and exemplify honest, rigorous feedback
- Shift course quickly if you realize you’re off track
- Celebrate both success and failures that provide insight
Do you have what it takes?