Talking the Strategic Thoughts

Periodically, I make decisions in the moment based on intuition or split-second decision-making to move an initiative forward quickly. While it doesn’t always work out to be strategically significant, I have pinpointed a few times where a decision has been strategically valuable in hindsight. One of my leadership goals of late is to think more strategically and I have noted that calling out when something is strategic has been helpful for me to internalize this behavior.

As an example, thinking strategically about the technology service points I manage often leads me to believe that the best approach to support is to find and latch onto a single point of contact. I manage multiple locations with varying services, but I also interface with groups that support additional needs and locations on my university’s campus. From a library patron’s perspective, a single point of contact for library services (or even services that only appear to be library-owned) will provide a level of customer service and perceived safety unable to be reached otherwise.

So my approach to this process is call the library help desk”; that’s it. Calling the library technology help desk should produce an outcome, no matter the circumstance. The first time I used the phrase, it was intuition and we weren’t prepared for it, but as time has gone on, it has become a strategic mantra of mine. Creation of a single point of contact allows for safety, stability, and consistency in communication, training, and additional strategizing.

No matter the example or the initial reasoning, one must call out when something has been strategically significant and then dig deeper into the following:

  1. When did I realize this was a strategic decision?
  2. If only in hindsight, how did I miss it initially?
  3. Why now am I realizing it as a strategic decision or idea?
  4. How can I learn to see these decisions or ideas as strategic sooner next time?
  5. Was it the right decision or idea for the need at hand?

Mark N. Goedert, Director of IT Planning & Strategy, at University of Illinois Chicago wrote about his leadership journey and had this to say that I think is related to my thinking:

I have found that the missing piece in my leadership puzzle is not a piece at all. It is a glass tile in my leadership mosaic; a single image with iridescent colors that change when viewed from different angles and sources of light. It is situational awareness that allows me to shift from my preferred voice to an authentic and connected voice that adapts to changing circumstances. It will be the mosaic of who I truly am, my leadership presence, and my signature voice.

Context helps with this excerpt. The author is looking at two types of presence and the accompanying voices that come with them: supportive (empathy and thoughtfulness) versus driving (confidence and determination). A leader needs both voices to be successful as they progress in their career, so Mark’s ideas suggests that a leader must be able to pivot based on the strategic need.

That is where I feel this aligns with my idea about calling out strategically significant work. A leader needs to be able to call out strategy in order to be more strategic in their thinking. That same strategic thinking needs to come from a place that understands the current landscape and exercises the voice needed in a given circumstance.

Posted: May 25, 2022

In 2022, I am participating in two leadership training programs. This should be a social experience, so I am writing about it. Check out the full list of posts in the series here.

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