This is the sixth in a long series of posts that will teach and explain The 6 Perspectives of Leadership™. It focuses on how leaders use strategy to lead.
Find the other parts to this series HERE.
This series will lead up to a book-launch planned for the fall of 2018 for my upcoming book “The 6 Perspectives of Accountable Leadership.”
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Leading from ABOVE with STRATEGY
Metaphorically speaking, strategy is a map. It’s not the destination, it’s not the vehicle or the journey, it’s only the map.
Vision is choosing your destination. Strategy is gathering your maps and deciding on a route and method to travel. Will you go by horse-back south around the mountain chain? Will you go over the mountain pass by foot? Will you go by boat over the sea to the north? The decision you make on how to reach your destination becomes the strategy. Once you take your first step, you are now executing the strategy.
In more obvious business terms, strategy might look like deciding between cold-calling and cold-emailing as a primary lead-generation process. Each takes a different skill and requires different resources. Both could be successful. But a business leader must make the choice. This would be called strategizing and then once the decision is made, she would have her strategy. This same business leader might choose cold-emailing as the primary method for lead generation. Now, the business leader can go forth and do the necessary things to equip her team with the skills to effectively send cold-emails.
(Equipping your team to execute the strategy is the third perspective of leadership, “Enabling.” More on that in future articles.)
Making a strategic decision.
In my upcoming book, The 6 Perspectives of Accountable Leadership, the topic of strategy will be given quite a lot of attention. For the purposes of this article, I will focus on just one aspect of strategy: decision making.
Reader, I would like you, at this moment of reading this article, to pause and ask yourself a question, “What is my vision?”
When you have your vision clearly in mind, ponder this next question, “What ways could I achieve my vision?”
When you then decide on committing to one of those ways, you would have your strategy.
How do you make the choice?
There’s a tool I share with my coaching clients and in my leadership seminars to help with this.
It’s a simple quadrant matrix that balances two factors. This will be familiar if you read last week’s article.
To make a sound decision, leaders must balance two primary variables: achievability and impact.
“How achievable is this choice?”
“How impactful is this choice?”
Take a look at this matrix which shows how these variables play out.
The content in this matrix is understandable, but somewhat theoretical or “text-book” as is. The following is a hypothetical (inspired by real-world events) example of this matrix in action:
Scenario: A volunteer group is doing some fund-raising for a charity in Portland, Oregon. Different volunteers have taken different approaches to the fund-raising.
Volunteer A decided that it would be a great idea to put up flyers on every telephone pole of every major intersection in Portland. With the large number of vehicles on Portland streets during rush-hour, thousands of Portlanders would be exposed to the fund-raiser every day. Surely enough people would see it and want to donate.
Volunteer B decided to put up a post on Facebook asking his friends to donate to the cause.
Volunteer C decided to email a few celebrities to have them appear at a fund-raising event where a celebrity chef would prepare food. At $5000 a plate, this will make a lot of money very fast.
Volunteer D decided to reach out to a handful of well connected friends and host an evening of local entertainment including a silent auction.
How did it all turn out?
Volunteer A was unable to accomplish the task of placing flyers on all the telephone poles in Portland. This process took much longer than expected and Volunteer A gave up after 20 hours of lonely labor over a weekend. The ones that were put up, no one really noticed. This strategy is represented on the bottom left quadrant – not achievable, not impactful.
Volunteer B easily accomplished the strategy; it only took about 3 minutes. But Volunteer B only raised $5 from one donation. This strategy is represented on the bottom right quadrant –achievable, not impactful.
Volunteer C failed in putting the celebrity dinner together. Not one celebrity got back to him. But everyone in the volunteer group still believed that if it actually happened, it probably would have made a lot of money. This strategy is represented on the top left quadrant – not achievable, impactful.
Volunteer D was able to pull off the social event with a silent auction. She has a close friend who married a local news caster who volunteered emcee duties. Her daughter’s high school band director is in a skilled and well-known local jazz band. The evening was fun, entertaining, many businesses in the local Chamber of Commerce donated auction items, and it was well attended since all the local news outlets covered the event. The overall cost was low, but it did take a sizable amount of labor on Volunteer D’s part. The event netted about $25,000, just shy of their $30,000 goal. This strategy is represented on the top right quadrant –achievable, impactful.
In retrospect, if the four volunteers took the time to analyze their four separate options and commit to just one of them based one the 4-quadrant analyzer, they very likely would have chosen Volunteer D’s option. With all four volunteers working together on the achievable/impactful option, they would have surely passed their $30,000 goal since Volunteer D raised $25,000 by herself.
Employee Engagement and Strategy
If you lead an organization.
You own the process of developing strategy. You can’t lead for strong employee engagement until your strategy is clear and you must make your strategy part of your communication regularly.
If you lead a team within an organization.
It’s your responsibility to know your organization’s strategy. It’s also your responsibility to make sure your team members know the strategy and how their work fits with the strategy. If they don’t know how their work fits in with the strategy, you will have weak employee engagement on your team.
If you lead yourself.
Treat yourself as an organization. You must understand your vision and strategy before you’re able to make effective day to day decisions that align with your strategy and achieve your vision.
Wrapping it up
Let’s make this real for you. Strategy only matters if you then execute the strategy. That comes next in the article series; the third perspective of accountable leadership is to lead from beneath by enabling. What you choose to enable will depend on strategy. Make your strategy sound. Make it relevant. Make it achievable and impactful. Then your strategy will bare the fruits of your labor.
ACTION — Examine your vision and your strategy together. Do they align? Is your strategy both achievable and impactful? Are you using it to build employee engagement? If not, apply the concepts in these articles. Refine your vision and strategy until they meet these desired variables.
There is certainly more to developing sound strategy, but this is where you start. If you get this right, the rest comes easier.
This was Part 6 in a multi-part series that will teach and explain The 6 Perspectives of Accountable Leadership™.
Follow me to catch the upcoming posts where I explain in greater details what it means to build a foundation and lead from each of the perspectives. Look for upcoming posts on Mondays. Follow my business page, Derek Rey Consulting, LLC to find all of the 6 Perspectives blog posts archived.
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Share this with your team, your organization, your connections on LinkedIn. Let this be of real world benefit to you and your colleagues.