The start of a new year often marks the launch or refinement of a strategy. Because strategy typically involves change, leaders need a few champions on the strategy implementation team who understand their role as change agents, appreciate why the strategy is necessary, are advocates for the Company’s culture, and have the critical thinking competency to drive the change required for the strategy to succeed.
During the implementation, there will be moments when challenges provoke cynicism and morale is fraying. At such times, assertions of authority to drive change can inhibit team collaboration and stifle progress. Effective strategy champions rely on their critical thinking ability to clarify the team’s purpose, to align that purpose with the Company’s culture and goals, and to facilitate dialogue within the team to identify the best way forward.
According to former Wall Street Journal writer George Anders (“You Can Do Anything”), the following 5 critical thinking attributes make strategy champions more effective:
- Willingness: The enthusiasm, confidence, and initiative to challenge the status quo, explore concepts for which no rules or precedents yet exist, and adapt to new circumstances.
- Credibility: The authenticity to influence and inspire others, energizing them to embrace required changes, by presenting cogent, persuasive rationales, encouraging discussions of pros and cons, and remaining personally engaged in the strategy execution.
- Curiosity: Curiosity sparks imagination to work through ambiguity, calmly and productively distilling information and connecting dots, to discover insights that can accelerate strategy implementation or suggest adaptations based on new circumstances.
- Expertise: The ability, gained through experience with the current or similar situations, to combine synergistic insights when this can expedite decision-making and change realization.
- Empathy: The proficiency to balance different perspectives and agendas, and productively resolve conflicts, while sustaining the progress of the implementation.
Which attributes do you use to identify your strategy champions?