He says that being strategic is to possess insight that leads to advantage. Strategic is the opposite of unstrategic that includes:
Wondering aimlessly, lacking direction, getting lost in the weeds.
Doing everything, lacking the discipline to say no, and trying to be all things to all customers, both internally and externally.
Conducting meetings that take conversations down rabbit holes that cause widespread frustration amongst the members of your group.
Fortunately, the book provides you with the blueprint for navigating those hurdles while being able to take a truly strategic approach to all facets of your business.
Specifically, you’ll learn about Horwath’s Strategic Quotient (SQ), a validated assessment tool which evaluates an individual’s ability to lead and think strategically. The SQ evaluates a leader’s current mindset and behaviors using the “3A Framework” – acumen, allocation, action. It identifies the building blocks of a strategic leader and pinpoints areas for improvement to help individuals reach their full potential.
With Horwath’s guidance, leaders will master the four dimensions of strategic fitness that contribute to executive performance:
Strategy Fitness: Ability to understand and develop strategy, set direction, allocate resources, make decisions, and create competitive advantage.
Leadership Fitness: Leadership philosophy, personal performance, mental training, and ability to master time and calendar.
Organization Fitness: Ability to create the appropriate business structure, evolve the business model, develop talent while planning for succession, and innovate.
Communication Fitness: How to facilitate conversations, conduct effective collaboration, bring value to customers, and lead productive meetings.
Some of my favorite takeaways from the book include:
Strategic plans should clearly describe where the business is today, where it’s going, and how it’s going to get there. Inherent in that description is what you choose to do and—equally important—what you choose not to do.
If your strategic plan is long, complicated, and not crystallized into a usable one- to two-page document, then there is work to be done. The longer the plan, the less likely it is to be updated with new insights and remain a relevant compass for your strategic direction.
A company is only as good as its people. People are only as good as their actions. And actions are only as good as the thinking behind them.
The best leaders practice the concept of servant leadership by ensuring their people are equipped with the knowledge, skills, and tools to effectively perform their functions.
It takes a confident leader to invest a larger chunk of time exploring the right question to frame the challenge. As Albert Einstein espoused: “If I had an hour to solve a problem, I’d spend 55 minutes thinking about the problem and five minutes thinking about solutions.”
Today, Horwath shared these additional insights with us:
Question: Of the three unstrategic sins, which one plagues organizations and their leaders the most and why?
Horwath: Killing meetings. 83% of executives we surveyed said that their meetings were an unproductive use of time. If your car or television worked less than 20% of the time, would you keep them? People tolerate unproductive meetings because they become part of the culture—no agenda, starting late, people multitasking, and nothing decided.
Question: What is the primary takeaway you want readers to have after they have read your book?
Horwath: If you don’t increase your strategic fitness, you and your business will fail. To think, plan, and act strategically simply requires awareness, discipline, and focus—all of which are in short supply where the crack cocaine of the business world is multitasking. Both flood the brain with dopamine, provide a brief high, and kill your productivity.
Question: What is the best first action to take for a business leader to become more strategic and to follow your book's advice?
Horwath: I define strategic as possessing insight that leads to advantage. The first step then to being strategic is to continuously be discovering insights. An insight is a learning that leads to new value. Hold yourself and your team accountable for generating, recording, and sharing one to three insights per week, and then find a place to house them in the future so you’re continually building your foundation of expertise.
With practical tools and dozens of real-world examples, Strategic shows you how to be more than tactical―and how to be truly strategic. There’s no better time than now to read this book.
Thank you to the book’s publisher for sending me an advance copy of the book.