3 Ways to be a Strategist, Not a Tactician

Like this on Facebook

“You need to be more strategic.” Many aspiring leaders have heard this type of feedback during a performance review or after giving a presentation. But what does it really mean? And how do you make the shift from being tactical to thinking and acting more strategically? Ever wondered if it’s even possible when you don’t have anyone to delegate to?

“I started out as the ultimate tactician,” says Dona Munsch, Vice President of Cloud Operations at NetApp. “I had this continuous drive to enjoy the intoxicating buzz of checking off things on my list.” It’s immediately gratifying to conquer a to-do list, but if you aspire to move beyond your current role, you’ll need to think and act more strategically.

In a leadership webinar titled “Transitioning from Tactician to Strategist,” I asked Munsch to describe how strategists and tacticians operate differently. She shared three shifts in mind-set to implement immediately, even if you don’t yet have direct reports.

1. What’s Your Time Horizon?

In the early days of her career, Munsch had a boss with a management style that she found inspirational. “She managed people in an amazing way,” recalls Munsch, who learned that the difference between tacticians and strategists is your time horizon.

Consider your current timeframe as you go about your day-to-day work. According to Munsch, if you want to be a strategist, not a tactician, each day, ask yourself: “What is my time horizon and where am I influencing? Is it for today, tomorrow, a year from now, or five years from now? Am I being very tactical in what I’m doing, focused on today and tomorrow, or am I looking toward things that will happen two years from now?” Shifting your attention away from what’s required of you in the near future and focusing on the longer-term encourages you to become more forward thinking, visionary, and strategic.

2. What’s The Scope Of Your Influence?

Another element to consider, continues Munsch, is your degree of influence. “I had some great mentors,” said Munsch—mentors who showed her how leaders at the next level operate. “I realized that you don’t have to be the one to do it to get it done. You can accomplish a lot through influence. You don’t have to ‘own’ a team to participate in highly influential activities that make a difference for your company, its customers, and employees.”

To expand your scope of influence, look for ways to build new relationships and expand your network. “Are you working with a few team members who report to the same leader as you do?” she says. “Or, are you influencing and working with a larger set, team to team, or with organizations that are not really part of your day-to-day role? Above all, are you developing your understanding of what life is like for them?”

Munsch recommends asking yourself: “Is there something that I do in my role that could be of value to others? How can I help this person, their team, or the organization be better?” The more you can understand what’s important to others and facilitate their success, the more skilled you’ll become at engaging them to collaborate with you to make things happen. That’s what influencers do.

3. What’s The Extent Of The Change You’re Driving?

“The last part of being strategic is the degree of change that you’re looking to drive,” says Munsch. A tactician chips away at the kind of goals that don’t threaten the status quo, or require them to build new networks or learn new skills. Meanwhile, a strategist sets out to create the type of ground-breaking change that requires a completely different way of thinking and operating.

“Another element that differentiates tactical execution from strategic action is what I would consider ‘irreversible change,’ a change that can’t be undone,” says Munsch. So to become more strategic, scale up your aspirations. Go after driving broad, sweeping change. “Tell your story of where things are going to be five years from now,” says Munsch. “Not what needs to be done today, and not what’s going to break tomorrow, but a much more aspirational view.

“When you’re talking strategy, long-term goals, and transformational change, your arms should be out wide and big and moving like you’re conducting,” says Munsch. “You can’t do that with T-Rex arms.”

So to be a strategist (not a tactician) look to the future, expand your scope of influence, and drive larger-scale change. How will you put these three distinctions to use?

This article appeared in Forbes on January 14, 2017.

Jo Miller

A leading authority on women’s leadership, Jo Miller is a sought-after, dynamic, and engaging speaker, delivering more than 70 speaking presentations annually to audiences of up to 1,200 women. Her expertise lies in helping women lead, climb, and thrive in their corporate careers. Jo has traveled widely in Europe, North America, Asia Pacific, and the Middle East to deliver keynotes and teach workshops for women’s leadership conferences, women’s professional associations, and Fortune 1000 corporate women’s initiatives. Jo is founding editor of BeLeaderly.com. Learn more about her speaking engagements at www.JoMiller.net and follow @Jo_Miller on Twitter.

Recommended

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Lyndsay Markley

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her ...

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Jamie Woodburn

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what she is doing to take the lead in her career. We invite her ...

Leaderly Quote: You don’t have to lead the team to do amazing things

Want to make a bigger difference at work? You don't have to wait to be promoted into a leadership role. It is possible to make ...

  • Yee

    This was copied

Four Types of Questions To Ask Your Mentor

Have conversations with your mentor gotten a bit repetitive lately? Perhaps you approached ...

5 Ways to be a Leader, Not a Manager

Have you ever wondered about the difference between a manager and a leader? ...

How to Shut Down a Colleague Who Takes Credit for Your Work

Has this ever happened to you? You’re in a meeting and the unthinkable ...

15 Songs for Your Leadership Playlist

It was one of those conference moments I’ll never forget: Carly Fiorina had ...

10 Killer Leadership Skills: The Great Differentiators?

Last week at Hallmark I hosted a couple gentlemen from a partner company. ...

11 Leadership Lessons Learned

Here are 11 lessons I’ve learned about leadership—mostly from much-admired colleagues, and just ...

25 Questions to Ask a Mentor

A few years ago, around the time when I was launching this blog, ...

Influencing Without Authority—Using Your Six Sources of Influence

I am in the difficult situation of being unofficial project lead, responsible for ...

9 Traits of Exceptional Leaders

Truly great leaders are hard to come by, but it seems everyone thinks ...

6 Critical Missteps That Hurt Your Career Advancement

Let’s face it: it isn’t easy to break out and establish yourself as ...

5 Things Women Leaders Should Stop Doing. TODAY.

Over the last couple years, I’ve had a front row seat to career ...

Nine Qualities of Female Leaders Who Get Beyond the Glass Ceiling

I’m frequently asked to speak about women in law and specifically the issue ...

8 Types of Courage for Aspiring Leaders

“The truth is that courage resides within you; you must simply decide to ...

4 Characteristics of Leaders Who Get Hired and Promoted

Imagine if you had the opportunity to sit down with a senior executive ...

Leaderly Quote: Don’t wait for an invitation to negotiate
Leaderly Quote: Don’t wait for an invitation to negotiate

Don’t wait for an invitation to negotiate. You’ve heard it before: the squeaky wheel gets

5 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand and Reputation at Work
5 Ways to Build Your Personal Brand and Reputation at Work

The idea of being a “quiet leader” has always appealed to me. I was never

How to Assert Yourself When You’re Dismissed
How to Assert Yourself When You’re Dismissed

Have you ever sat in a meeting and felt ignored or utterly unimportant?  Perhaps you

The Best Advice Our Moms Gave Us
The Best Advice Our Moms Gave Us

Moms are always right.  Aren’t they?! In honor of the special guidance that so many

3 People Who Add Instant Influence to Your Network
3 People Who Add Instant Influence to Your Network

While it’s useful to cultivate an extensive network of professional contacts, it’s even more beneficial

Leaderly Quote: The world is not changed by people who sort of care.
Leaderly Quote: The world is not changed by people who sort of care.

”The world is not changed by people who sort of care,” says branding expert Sally Hogshead.

4 Ways to Shrink Your Wage Gap
4 Ways to Shrink Your Wage Gap

What to do if you think you’re paid less than your male colleague? Realizing you’re

The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month
The Top 5 Most-Read Articles This Month

Here are our most-read, most-popular, career changing articles this month on Be Leaderly. Which ones

Saying “No” to Office Housework, Be Leaderly Weighs in on HBR
Saying “No” to Office Housework, Be Leaderly Weighs in on HBR

When you think of housework, what picture comes to mind? Strewn clothes? A jumble of

Leaderly Quote: If you never hear no, you’re not asking for enough.
Leaderly Quote: If you never hear no, you’re not asking for enough.

Want to negotiate with more confidence? Start seeing “No” as one piece of information –

Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Discusses ‘Career Stretch’ & Readiness on SAP Radio
Be Leaderly’s Selena Rezvani Discusses ‘Career Stretch’ & Readiness on SAP Radio

‘Career Stretch’ & Readiness: Does It Differ From a Gender Lens? Stretch opportunities – those

How to Take Control of Your Reputation at Work
How to Take Control of Your Reputation at Work

The most important career capital you have isn’t your technical skills or academic pedigree. It’s

Emerging Leader Spotlight: Liza Lee Luk
Emerging Leader Spotlight: Liza Lee Luk

Every month we ask an emerging leader we admire to share what they’re doing to

Get Smart About the Wage Gap: 10 Great Reads for Equal Pay Day
Get Smart About the Wage Gap: 10 Great Reads for Equal Pay Day

Equal Pay Day 2018 falls on Tuesday, April 10. This date brings the gender wage

At Be Leaderly, our mission is a simple one: To provide proven career strategies that help you lead, climb, and thrive as a rising woman of influence. If you’re ready to lead, we’re here to support and inspire you.

Subscribe

captcha

PRIVACY

We will never share, rent, or sell your personal information or email address. Read more
Copyright 2018, Be Leaderly