Strategic Mindedness and Courage – How to dream big and have the guts to go for it.
Author: Michelle Fitzsimons
Why do so many people find it hard to put a strategy together and have the courage to go for it?
With increased frequency I am asked “How do I get my team to operate more strategically?” which is often then followed up with the statement “I wish they would just get on with it”. In other words, they are dealing with a skill gap in terms of their teams’ ability to put together a strategy and figure out how to deliver it. With this in mind I thought April was a great time to focus on Strategic Mindedness and Courage as our strengths for the month. They are two great strengths to help you achieve this.
So, what do I mean by a strategy? To me the strategy is the route you need to follow to deliver your vision, it helps therefore if you have a vision! Why is that difficult? Lots of reasons many are personal to the individual but two mayor ones are an inability or lack of desire to create the vision and therefore the strategy and the guts to really go for It. An absence of strategic thinking and courage.
Why do many of us lack these as strengths? It may be just the organisations I work with, but I meet so many more people who have detail orientation as a strength than strategic thinking. Often when someone has strategic thinking as a strength, they still need help working out how to use it well. I have a theory as to why that is too. It’s not based on any science just my observations and curiosity.
Warning – I make sweeping generalisations for which I do not apologise but do acknowledge there are many teachers, schools, employers and organisations that do not fit this theory! There are however in my personal experience, even more that do! 😉
Way back at primary school we were encouraged to be creative, use our imaginations, think big and dream. Inquisitive minds, incessantly asking questions. Big plans to be the next Spider-Man or astronaut and the ability to conjure up the most magical stories. At this stage in life children will join in with drama, art and music without embarrassment, come last at sports day but still love the race and wear what they love not just what’s fashionable. Happy days.
Then it’s “big school” and there’s much more emphasis on conforming, passing tests and fitting in. Standing out from the crowd would cause death by embarrassment and curiosity is often no longer seen as that, it’s either deemed annoying or rebellious. There seems little time or indeed emphasis on being inquisitive, dreaming big and going for it.
What has this got to do with your team finding it difficult to put a strategy together and have the courage to go for it?
After we leave education and embark on our careers, in the early years we are commended for getting the task done. Doing what is asked of us, having great attention to detail and clearing the to do list for that day, week and month. We are told what the strategy is and what we need to do to deliver our part in it. Have you ever seen a job advert for an entry level position which asked for strategic thinking and the courage to challenge your boss’s decision? If you nail all these tasks, you get promoted and suddenly you have to think strategically. But how? You haven’t been encouraged to do that since age 11 nor have you been encouraged to break the mold and be different. I really believe this is one reason many people have a gap in their skill set when it comes to big picture thinking. Creating the vision and the plan to get there and behaving differently to others just isn’t appealing and for many sits outside of the comfort zone. Fear of trying, fear of failing and being too wrapped up in delivering this month’s tasks. It’s essentially a form of self-preservation – don’t mess up just deliver the target one month at a time.
How do you build a culture that encourages strategic thinking and courage? You need to give people space to think, not just the time but the space. You also need to encourage people to try, fail, learn from it and then try again. Praise it rather than criticise. What would happen in your organisation if someone was observed sitting quietly in a room apparently doing nothing? You need to encourage curiosity and inquisitiveness. Again, what would happen in your organisation if the CEO gave an instruction and a deadline only for a curious member of staff to ask “why?” or “ Is that the only option?”
If in your team you have strategic thinkers and people driven by their courage then great, harness it. If like many you don’t then remember the beauty of strengths-based development is that there are an infinite number of ways to achieve your desired outcome, its about approaching it in the right way for you and for them. There’s lots of other strengths that can help create the strategy and motivate you to deliver it, you just need to know the right ones for you!
If you’d like to learn more about strengths-based development and how you can really put your strengths to best use you can read all about it here. If you’re interested in finding out more about the services we provide or want some help getting your team firing on all cylinders give us a shout. Or, if you enjoy quick wins, take away’s and food for thought follow us our Linkedin Page
Go on, be brave and think about your end goal! 😉