Does it ever feel as if you’re constantly being swept up in an unrelenting series of cyclical timelines involving reports, financial statements, production figures, and updates on current initiatives? Then, the feeling is compounded by the pressure of project deadlines and the need to be responsive to team members, clients, and customers.
All these things together can feel like g-forces, pulling your attention away from longer-term objectives.
The Pressure of the Immediate
You cannot ignore the area of the immediate, rather you must strive to be excellent at handling short-term concerns. Your team’s trust partially relies on knowing you have everything handled. This requires both:
- Superior time-management skills
- The ability to look critically within the organization for opportunities to streamline processes and systems
However, while it’s necessary you demonstrate excellence in this phase of the job, doing so is not sufficient in and of itself.
A plane in flight must maintain airspeed to avoid stalling. Forward progress, which causes air to pass over the wings and create lift, is essential. The same can be said for businesses and non-profit organizations. They must be perceived as making good on their stated missions, internally and to those who consume their products. Without the sense that they’re progressing, improving, or accelerating, there’s a danger they might enter a stall.
Commit to Long-Term Progress
It’s not enough for a company to make good on its immediate commitments. It must also move forward with market changes and customer expectations. Even the most successful brands, ones that have flourished for decades, are constantly looking to the future. They ask themselves which expectations must be met in order for them to thrive as they move forward.
For this to occur, there needs to be an expectation that leaders will devote time and effort to the future needs and direction of the company. Dedicating time, intellectual resources, and collaboration to this end allows the organization to be well-positioned with their longer-term objectives.
Why Take A Proactive Approach
For example, a rapidly growing company might have an onboarding process for new team members that relies on the familiarity and implicit understanding of existing team members. As long as the company remains small, specific expectations around time management, professional interactions, and product deliverables can be transmitted via direct observation.
But, as the company grows and the number of new team members outpaces the capacity of seasoned team members, norms and values that were once implicitly known can become diluted and even lost. With this loss, it becomes difficult to guarantee that the customer experience will remain at the same standard.
It’s critical the company devotes time and resources to ensuring their culture continues to grow and thrive after the current systems perpetuating them no longer function. They must be proactive in establishing new systems before a crisis emerges.
Understanding Strategy vs. Tactics
A tactical decision solves an immediate problem or addresses a challenge in the moment. If you’re tactically skilled, it gives the people you work with confidence that you’re paying attention and handling problems as they arise. During the pandemic, companies needed to make good tactical moves in regard to their financial situations. Strong tactics helped them respond to new challenges quickly and make the most of available assistance and support.
On the other hand, a company’s strategic direction guides their commitments and actions over an extended period — sometimes even years. A strategic direction is constantly informed by research, data, and long-term market trends. Strategy can also involve the alignment of values and purpose over the long term as an embodiment of how the company chooses to do business.
Strategy substantively differs from tactics, not only in the time period over which it is applied, but also in how such decisions impact the organization. A good tactical decision can resolve an immediate problem or position a company for short-term gains. A great strategy, when applied well and with fidelity, positions the company for extended success.
Balance the immediate need to deliver with a vision for the future. Doing so is both a challenge and a discipline. Strive to perform in the moment and keep your eyes focused on the horizon.
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Tim, with his extensive background in education and management, is a great part of our Fired-Up team dedicated to inspiring teams and leaders. At Fired-Up, our work is dedicated to harnessing the power of culture to equip leaders, build amazing teams and align operation practices to delighting the customer and drive breakthrough results.