This is the first blog from the 5-article series, ‘Strategic Thinking and Leadership’ by Nadeem Yousaf, Vice President Professional Services at Systems Limited.
I got this opportunity to attend the Strategic Thinking and Leadership course offered by the Wharton University at Pennsylvania. It was a valuable learning experience with insights from great mentors, and real time hands-on experiences with the cohorts. To me, leadership is all about real action in a given situation, and action varies in different situations, so a checklist does not make much sense to me. And since great leaders know how to be subjective, they tend to be empathetic and strategic, rather than rigid.
What I’ve learnt throughout my experience is that an actionable list of leadership attributes helps develop the right mindset, a winning culture and the customer-favorite brand everyone buys from. I’ll break down 14 points as a framework for the leadership concept that covers these very aspects in detail.
If you’re inclined to make a difference or accomplish a greater goal, it must be fueled by a vision that proves to be a driving force for you to deliver a laudable performance sprint.
A visionary mindset is imperative to achieve long term goals as it gives a purpose to your goals. Without an end goal in your mind, it is rather futile to move forward as it would bear nothing but unwelcomed stymies.
Moreover, your workforce or resources are also heavily influenced by their leader. As a leader, you can instill your vision in your workforce, and it eventually simplifies the road accomplish long term goals.
Lastly, when you have a vision, it is easy to stay on track, keep your team organized and measure your business goals in tactical fashion.
Thinking yet acting strategically are two practices that are strongly dependent on each other. To get a clearer insight on developing a strategic mindset, you need to be:
· Extremely meticulous about the industry trends, business drivers, and contexts.
· Explore as well as synthesize the daily processes in the internal operational structure.
· Network in and out of your organization, sector, and industry.
· Think of everything and its impact in the long run. Being strategic refers to being fully determined about your options in the future.
· Structurization and systematic processes portray a strategic mindset.
Not to forget, if you have a habit of executing tasks in a transactional manner, its time to forego that.
Also, make sure the strategy aligns with your core beliefs that help you create a connected and thriving ecosystem.
Punitive approach to increase productivity does not prove out to be proficient, atleast not in today’s corporate paradigm. In order to boost productivity, elevating employee, peer, and colleague self-confidence is one of the quickest ways to ensure maximum output.
Similarly, make your workforce feel valuable through various gestures, monetary or non-monetary benefits, and putting out a good word for them would do the job too. Appreciating your workforce encourages them to do more of what they do best and brings greater visibility, fresh ideas, and better prospects of business prosperity.
Heard of a phrase “walk the talk”? It holds significant importance in the incipient positive change in the organization. Once you set the benchmark of a particular practice by becoming the first one to step up to the task, the ones behind you – your workforce will be motivated to go an extra mile. As a leader, you need to set the precedent, take ownership, and lead by example so people working under you, perform their duties to the best of their abilities.
Crucial moments and trying times are somewhat inevitable in the professional life. You will be met with situations demanding quick and firm stance of yours. It is always recommended to make well-thought out and timely decisions and of course, ensure that they are executed. A great idea won’t be as good if the execution isn’t right.
Taking informed decisions is critical to guarantee that the business milestones are met. Hence, make sure you have contingency plans in place when the initial plan does not work out. Having multiple alternatives is good to strategize, screen, and capitalize on the best one and gain the most out of it.
Communication is critical when delineating the project details to the concerned individuals. It is pertinent to assure every facet of the agenda is understood without any irrelevant jargon, that hinders transparent communication among every individual present in the room. Use simplified content that is understood by everyone so that they are clear on their roles and responsibilities.
Another way of proving your point is to convey with examples, so that your team is well-versed with the challenges at hand, and developing potential solutions becomes easier.
First off, remove the power distance if there is any between you and the employees. The eradication of even a minute possibility of a communicational gap between the leadership as well as the workforce sets the shatterproof foundations of a true-blue workforce.
Moreover, encourage the ideas and little efforts employees make towards the end goal. Also, continuous positive feedback is what will keep the concentration of the employees intact on the objective.
Empower employees wherever necessary because a solo flight can be detrimental. Delegating authority is one way of developing leadership skills in the employees. Some domains are to be placed out of bounds, but wherever the places can be filled by potential prospects, waste no time in providing the opportunity to the ones who deserve.
Hone the potential in others by constructive feedback as well as giving the employees a lead on projects to help them comprehend and develop the composure to work under pressure, as well as enhance the crisis management skills. Remember to supervise the progress and step up
wherever the employees need your guidance. That is one way of grooming your future leadership pool. Taking initiatives that train, educate, and encourage employees to step forward and lead the change is primal for organizations.
Expand your professional circle by networking as well as being accessible to those who look up to you for guidance. Garnering stronger relationships creates a boisterous and passionate ambience at the workplace.
The projected results must be crystal clear to every resource in the organization on both individual as well as collective basis. Subsequently, to achieve the long-term results, the objectives on employee and organizational level ought to be aligned with the vision and strategy of the firm overall.
All these responsibilities are on to the shoulders of the leader who shows the way forward. It’s the leader’s job to make every element of the organization to understand the greater impact every employee’s effort will be on not just their own evaluation, but also the overall organization’s growth.
Exercise integral professional values like accountability, humility, and credibility in the form of gestures, commentary, and accounts. Such practices ensure that the employees are aware that you are true to the best interests of the organization.
Over optimism can be a vice that bears the ability to ruin the way forward. I would recommend being vigilant of any potential threats that may thwart your growth, and then work on alleviating the risks.
Moreover, train your management to carry out periodic analysis in order to safeguard your institution from any unwarranted risks.
Onboarding employees with different skillsets in a single team delivers benign results. Diverse teams create innovative results that help the organizations to leverage such disruptive and creative methods to drive organizations to hyper-agility and hence, achieve operational efficiency.
In corporate settings, put aside individualism as it does not bear any sustainable growth. Ensure every facet of the organization is aligned with the strategy, vision, mission, and decision-making processes because growth is achieved through collective means, doing everything on your own in an organizational setting seems practically impossible and nor does it promise any positive outcomes in the long run.
Please review these points and shar your view? What do you think are enough and what new to add or update in this list? As the next step I will be adding on top of this next articles for Strategy, Execution, and a correlation among Leadership, Strategy, and Execution.
Nadeem Yousaf – VP Professional Services