I believe that leaders worth their salt are focused on the future--where they’re heading, not where they are or have been.
I love what author Marcus Buckingham says (“The One Thing You Need to Know”):
“What defines a leader is his/her preoccupation with the future…leaders are fascinated by the future…Whenever a person strives to help others see a better future, there is leadership…you do it because you can’t help it. You do it because you see the future so vividly, so distinctly that you can’t get it out of your head.”
Let’s think about moving toward some God-pleasing dream/goal/idea/burden in the future as strategic thinking and strategic planning. It is leading proactively rather than reactively.
As I have been thinking about/teaching this concept for a number of years, here are five critical steps in being strategic in your leadership:
1. Purpose ~ Who Are You?
We start with who you are. How has God created you? What are your spiritual gifts, passions, natural abilities, experiences? Where are they pointing? As you think through these areas of your life, you can develop a purpose statement which can serve as a road map/blueprint/compass to guide you into your exciting future.
2. Vision ~ Where Are You Going?
Leaders are visionaries at heart. As you look into the future, what bothers you, keeps you awake at night, gets you up early in the morning? If you could make a significant contribution to right a wrong, give birth to something that doesn’t yet exist, improve something that is not what it could be, what comes to mind? Buckingham says: “leaders rally people to a better future.” What is that better future you see that you want to rally people to so they can join you on your exciting journey?
3. Team ~ Who Do You Need To Get You There?
From the people who are traveling with you toward your desired God-pleasing future, what kinds of people do you need to select to be on a team that can complement you? A good team has different kinds of people: dreamers, administrators, implementers, problem solvers, etc. Carefully and prayerfully select people who are different than you. You need some go-getters, some very sensitive people-oriented team members and some very detailed people. Think in terms of Prophets, Priests and Kings.
4. Goals ~ How Will You Get There?
You will want to set goals to help you move toward your vision. Steps you will take that, over time, will get you to where you want to go.
One thing has become clear as I’ve studied the life of Jesus and Paul and that is that they had goals they were working toward. Ref. John 17:4, 2 Timothy 4:8, Phil 3:13,14.
Goals can be divided into time frames: life goals, long-range goals (5 years or longer), intermediate goals (l year), short-range goals (daily/weekly) as well as into areas of life: personal, spiritual, mental, physical, social, family, ministry. One person planned goals around the four areas in Luke 2:52: mental, social, spiritual, physical. You want your goals to be SMART:
---> Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time frame.
There is an excellent book on my blog site under Book Notes by Brian Tracy called “Goals.”
5. Evaluation ~ How Will You Monitor Progress?
On a regular basis you will want to evaluate how you’re doing by asking yourself some questions:
- What is going well?
- What is not going well?
- What do I need to start doing that will help me?
- What do I need to stop doing that is hurting me?
- What do I need to do differently that will improve what I am doing?
- How can I better use my time?
- Who else do I need on the team to make us better?
- What is the most important thing I should be working on today, this week that will move me toward my desired future?
+ Why not take a personal inventory as to how you are doing on these five aspects of being a strategic thinking/planner so you can improve your leadership?