Keeping your head as a strategic leader | what is strategic leadership

Nov 05, 2020

What is a strategic leader? It’s a curious question when you think about it.

Is what defines a strategic leader the scope of their work? Their seniority? the number of people that report to them? the size of their budget? The size of their paycheck?
For me, a strategic leader is one who can conceptualise strategy and lead others to deliver. That sounds directional and isn’t intended in that way. A strategic leader can take inspiration and insight from their teams to co-develop strategy but they lead that facilitative effort and breathe life into the plans.
The strategic leader is able to work across boundaries, with multiple personalities, across time frames, business units, processes and functions in order to realise the vision of the company. There’s a danger of displacement or even detachment the further the leader strays into these areas.
They’ve got their head in the clouds
They don’t know / care what happens on the ground
They’re so fixated on X that they can’t see what’s happening now
I’ve personally experienced that displacement when you can strive for significant growth / progress and almost become fixated on that future state of what could be that I became frustrated by what is.
What can you do to reset? 
I can recommend a fabulous technique for centring yourself in the here and now. It’s a practice that you can easily bring into your daily routine and is effective in many areas of your life.
  1. Find a space where you won’t be disturbed or distracted.
  2. Get comfortable - seated, standing, laid down whatever feels best.
  3. Find a point across the room where you can focus on one object – a plant, a piece of furniture, anything really.
  4. Close your eyes
  5. Breathe deeply and count to four. Breathe out slowly. Repeat.
  6. Now, bring your focus back to the centre of your head. Shift into your inner body as if you were inside looking out.
  7. Then, bring back your attention from other places and other times. Separate yourself from what happened earlier today or what you’ve got planned for later whether that’s today, tomorrow or three months from now.
  8. Feel how much bigger you are inside your mind, with all of that energy focussed on now.
  9. Notice how good it feels to be whole again. Smile.
  10. Go ahead and open your eyes again.
As you go about your day, try to focus on now and the messages that are coming to you. In your discussions with others, ask them about steps that need to be taken now, what is the temperature in the room now. Just as you might feel the pulse in your wrist to feel in touch with your body, touch the pulse of your teams and be curious.
As leaders we tend to spend time in the future, when we paint the vision, when we describe a change that’s ahead. That’s how we inspire people and give direction and hope. We can only think about taking people forward when we know where we are today.

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