In developing an effective strategy—one that clearly depicts positive impact to society—having a growth mind-set is a key element that is critical in creating a positive attitude.
To ensure this leaders need to have a high level of emotional intelligence using which they are able to understand different perspectives of the issues and are able create execution plans that clearly depict organizational benefits.
Providing clarity, to employees, between the strategy and the individual role creates an understanding. When this is coupled with the strategic purpose, of the organization, it galvanises employees by providing them a cause which is over and above the cold numbers of business and, more importantly, create stories that are shared with the organizations’ stakeholders thereby adding to its reputation.
In strategic planning the common mistake we make is the clarity between strategy and its initiative. Strategy is the overarching plan of achieving the purpose of the business. Simply put a business plan details why is the organization in business; what it intends to do to fulfil that purpose and how it will go about doing in the short, mid and long-term.
Whilst many of us are leaders we also are human and therefore fallible. Having blind spots is one of them. Our cultural background, organizational culture and our understanding of professionalism creates the persona of who we are and how we are perceived. And this impacts on both clarity of strategic idea and leadership capability. As you can see these are the ‘soft’ (skills) side and not about the subject expertise.
Being able to recognise one’s blind spots and acting upon it brings out the depth of emotional intelligence and aids a leader in guiding the team successfully.
Here are my top four blind spots that I have observed, across industry sectors, in Asia:
- Lack of strategic business understanding:
Arises from self-denial behaviour, with regards to inability in understanding business purpose and needs beyond the P&L, and in enlisting necessary support. Resulting in creating a self-inflicted isolation and being dis-engaged.
2. A survival not growth focus approach on projects:
Flowing from the isolated approach key projects are directed on a survival-mode manner i.e. cost-cutting and higher short-term profits at any cost and not from generating a planned effective growth in the long run.
3. Lack of clarity and direction to the next level down:
A survival-mode approach results in the inability to engage, fruitfully, in explaining the long-term benefits and results in lack of direction.
4. Inability to connect, from the heart, and engage rank and file:
The inability in explaining the long-term benefits stems from a lack of understanding on the strategic business purpose. Such leaders are unable to be authentic and speak from the heart and lose out on engaging employees for the bigger purpose.
Get a mirror and remove the blind spots
In driving a car there is one corner which is just out of our peripheral vision and in order to see that spot we often use a mirror angled precisely so as to show that part of the road and avoid any accidents.
Start with acknowledging the blind spots present. Then address it by being courageous in asking for help on this from key team members in order to get authentic feedback and solutions that has the bigger picture in mind.
What such an action does is that it creates trust and a safe-zone, for the leadership team. It builds respect among the core leadership team and puts the organizational purpose front and center. Such leadership behaviour impacts positively in creating the culture that is emulated down the ranks.
It provides clarity between strategy and execution activities and provides healthy, honest evaluation of both the strategy and execution and ultimately benefits the organization.