Not all leadership activity is equally strategic. And by strategic activity we mean those things that we do that are moving us towards accomplishing our leadership mission. Separating busyness from strategic activity requires wisdom and constant attention from the leader. Below is a simple outline to begin to think and lead strategically.
A Strategic Leadership Process
1. Mission Statement – What is our mission we are trying to accomplish?
This answers the question, “Why do we exist?” This is first and foremost in strategic leading. It’s the picture frame on the wall of the Kingdom that separates and defines who we are from what others are. It is our identity.
2. Define Current Reality – SWOT Analysis
This sets the context for our strategic planning and initiatives by seeking to truly understand our current situation. A SWOT analysis defines this situation by looking at current Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.
3. Vision Statement
This is where we want to go in the future – our destination. It is the picture of the future that we see by faith, usually 5-7 years ahead. It’s as if we are placed into the future and take a picture of that new reality – our desired future state. Then, we try to describe this picture in detail. This is the picture that is placed into the picture frame of our mission. It is this future vision that we will begin to work towards and bring into reality.
A vision must have a faith stretch to it, but not so much overreach that it is seen as wishful thinking or a fantasy. After describing this future reality, you want to craft a short vision statement that captures as much of this picture as possible. Good vision statements should be clear, concise, and compelling. e.g. JFK’s vision for NASA – “We will place a man on the moon by the end of the decade.”
4. Strategic Directions
Now that we have identified where we are going, we need to decide which roads we will take to get to our destination. These are a few things (no more than 5 usually) that we focus on for the next couple of years that will begin to move us towards our destination. These directions are not all that we will do, but they are key to taking us from where we are to where we want to be – our destination. These strategic directions need to be re-evaluated every couple of years to decide if we continue with these or enough progress has been made that we can now focus on different things. e.g. For the next three years we will focus on: staff recruiting, staff training, and staff funding
5. Strategic Goals
With each strategic direction we will want to have some specific goals with metrics that we can use to assess whether or not we are making progress in our strategic directions. These goals need to be concrete and clear. e.g. For the next three years we will hold three staff recruiting previews; recruit 50 full-time staff, train all towards the staff profile, dedicate 3 staff to be staff trainers; train all staff in personal fundraising; all staff will be up to full budget, etc.
These strategic directions and goals will then influence our yearly leadership plans. All leadership plans need to be aligned with these over-arching directions and goals. Again, we will do more in our leadership and plans than this, but each part of our work will seek to address these directions and goals. Thus, we have strategic alignment across the work.
Are you busy in your leadership or are you strategic? There’s a BIG difference!