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What is Your Leadership Strategy?

Years ago, I took on a role to rebuild a program from scratch. At the time there were two staff members to serve 2000+ students and a minuscule budget. Many said this was an impossible problem to solve and doubted it even could be. And to be honest, I wasn’t 100% confident either. I had to get really silent to figure out my strategy.

The beginning of my process is to ask myself certain questions that help me begin to map out my strategy.

  1. What problem am I trying to solve?

  2. What are the needs of those I’m serving?

  3. What are the barriers?

  4. Who are my power of influence partners?

Since I’m a visual person, I write the questions and answers out on a white board, which helps me engage in my in strategic process.

Ok so back to my story…

What I knew for sure is that I needed my power of influence partners because I required additional staff, a new space, an operating budget and institutional will because we were failing students. The students that applied to be in this program and were accepted were promised support, and they weren’t getting the support they needed.

So, I asked for funding to conduct an external review, and asked for the reviewers to meet with the University President and Academic Vice President and the Vice President for Student Affairs. The reviewers asked the leadership team what their ideal program would look like prior to them conducting their review. When they completed their interviews, they met with the leadership team again and shared their findings.

See, at the time, the reviewers had the expertise and capital needed to make the case for change; the only change that institutional will could implement. The review was a strategic move and I called in many favors to get the University President at the table. Without calling on my power of influence partners, this would never have happened. The ripple effect of the

external review led to the university being able make good on the promise to the students.

What is Your Leadership Strategy?

I’ve shared this story with you to try and illustrate how I lead, not to tell you how you should lead. But it is important for you to have your own leaderships strategies in place.

If, when a problem arises, you find yourself kind of winging it, you need to come up with a process that will help you see the problem clearly and uncover the exact steps to take to solve it (and to solve it on time and on budget!).

With this in mind, here are some questions to ask yourself to help you put together your own leadership strategy:

  • What are your strengths and weaknesses?

  • Do you have a strong network to tap into?

  • Are you comfortable challenging your own and others’ preconceived assumptions?

  • Do you have what it takes to get a diverse team to all buy into a common vision?

  • Do you learn from your own mistakes?

When you take the time to answer questions like these, you begin to get a clear picture of your leadership style, strengths and potential strategy.

Your next step is to begin to test your strategy on small fires that need to be put out. Test and refine your strategy often until you have developed one that will serve your team well, no matter what kind of problem or crisis you face.

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