• Marriot Winquist

3 Keys to Strategic Leadership


Photo by Ryan Moreno on Unsplash


"You're not visionary enough."

"You're not strategic enough."

"You're not painting the big picture."


Have you heard any of those comments?


I recently worked with a client who wanted to "be more strategic" because they felt while they've always been great at executing, they're ready to take on a more "strategic" role to make greater impact at their work.


What we found during our work together was pleasantly surprising: she was ALREADY doing strategic work. She just didn't view her thinking and actions through that lens because it wasn't how she normally saw her own work.


So, what does "being strategic" means in your work?


3 important areas rose to the top:

✅ Setting direction

✅ Engaging the right people

✅ Keeping things moving


So how do we do that?

✅ Setting direction

While there may be situations where a leader may come up with a direction all on their own, this is rarely the case.


The best shift in mindset here is to approach this as a process instead of a single moment in time.


The process of setting direction would likely involve having some idea of general direction while being open, engaging the right people, considering a lot of input from various perspectives, having productive dialogues, and eventually coming to a direction together that is aligned to your organization's goals and growth.


Some questions to consider are: What impact are we trying to make? What are we seeing externally (trends, market, clients, products, etc.) and internally (teams, functions, initiatives, etc.)? Who do we need to engage? What are we best in the market as? How do we provide the value we want?


✅ Engaging the right people


Being strategic does NOT mean going at it alone. In fact, it actually means rallying the right people around the initiative in order to move it forward.


Having the right people at the right phase of strategic leadership is critical.


And if you don't know who needs to be involved, ask.

"I'm leading the charge on X to drive growth in ABC. It'll likely impact these areas. Who should be involved as we start exploring this?"


✅ Keeping things moving


This includes:

  • evangelism

  • monitoring progress against big picture

  • clearing roadblocks


It's easy to kick things off, but it takes a leader with a steady and persistent hand to lead the team towards success and completion.


A strategic leader helps the organization keep the big picture in mind, and genuinely promotes and evangelizes the initiative.


They are "far" enough to empower the team to drive towards success, given a clear view of impact, goals, and measurable results, while "close" enough to track progress and help clear roadblocks for the team.


Like many things in leadership, "being strategic" is not magic, and can be mastered with experience.


How is your experience in "being strategic"?