Throughout history, war has been perceived as actions comprised of two distinct types of engagements. The first focuses on tactics—or the completion of outlined objectives. The second is centered on strategy—or the planning of scenarios that lead to and from successful battlefield encounters.
In pondering the parallels between war-fighting and business operations, these two types of engagements resemble two distinct leadership styles. And while all might be fair in (love and) war, certain behaviors and attitudes in business aren’t beneficial to your bottom line. Both styles exhibit strengths (and both are necessary at one time or another), yet one leadership style is exponentially more effective than the other in terms of business growth.
The differences in leadership styles boil down to workplace habits that equate to either being eternally busy or functionally productive. Below are four questions that will help you to distinguish between the two.
1) Am I Aiming Towards The Goal?
The main point of divergence between tactical and strategic leadership styles begins with mindset. Tacticians are typically concerned with accomplishing a mission, and as a result, they may find themselves cornered by busy thoughts. By not being in alignment with the end game from the onset, their productivity may not contribute to something beyond the sum of its parts. Strategists, however, zero in on tasks that are aligned with future goals. They start off with clarity and purpose and clearly know how to arrive at their destination.
2) Where Do My Priorities Lie?
Albert Einstein would agree that, like time, priorities are also relative. But since the tactician mindset is characterized by prioritizing routine, they carry out an organization’s tasks without focusing on them as part of a greater whole. That is not to say that tacticians don’t prioritize well—they are some of the best at engineering efficiency. Unlike tacticians; however, strategists embrace the school of thought that prioritizes those tasks aligned with outcomes dated for the future. In this way, strategists add value to their time in the present by laying valuable foundations.
3) Am I Working To My Strengths?
The most profitable approach to business is achieved by focusing on greatest assets. Tacticians, though, are inclined to doing the opposite by favoring processes and productivity over investments of time and resources into people. By failing to acknowledge the human capacity to effect change within an organization, they water the seeds of their own potential decline. Strategic business leaders, on the other hand, recognize that people are their greatest assets and invest them as part of a leadership continuity process.
4) Am I Making Excuses More Often?
Because tacticians are typically focused on the present, they become masters at making excuses. They use their busy-ness as a reason for not investing time in things that matter outside the realm of daily operations. In a dissimilar manner, strategists make time for reflecting on obstacles to business growth. They notice potential areas for growth and improvement, often acting faster to make decisions that are beneficial to their organization because they’ve distanced themselves enough from the daily grind.
The differences between these styles of leadership are underscored by their effects on an organization. By discerning whether you lean towards one leadership style or another, you’ll be able to position yourself to make productive changes in the workplace.