A few months ago a friend and I were discussing a new leadership role that he recently stepped into. Although he is really successful and likes his new role, he told me that the thing he misses most about his old role was that he isn’t moving piles of dirt anymore. When I asked him what he meant, he said that his old role was much more tactical and at the end of the day he could clearly see what he had accomplished. It was like moving piles of dirt. There was an instant acknowledgement that he was making or had made some progress and achieved something. In his new role as a leader, he is much more strategic and much less tactical. It can be weeks, months or years before the true value of a strategy pays off and he sees results and “the pile of dirt” has moved!
This is quite a common feeling in leaders that are making the role transition from tactical to strategic. We can be so focused on our daily “To-Do” lists, short term goals and targets that setting long term strategy can be boring, difficult and discouraging because we don’t get our daily adrenaline rush from seeing the piles of dirt moving about! However, setting strategy for your organization is one of the most important things that you can do…without a corporate strategy your organization will struggle and success will be limited.
There is good news . . . strategy does not have to be boring, difficult or discouraging. When setting strategy, you should break it down into clearly defined targets spread out over the days, weeks and months so that you can see a series of small victories leading up to the big pile of dirt moving. When you structure your work this way, these small victories give you energy and motivation to keep going as you drive towards the big strategy. It also gives you the ability to track progress and make adjustments when you are not moving quick enough or get distracted or off track.
For more information, refer to How Do You Track Your Strategic Priorities, where I provided some tips and a tool to record and track your strategic priorities.