Jumping from the Operational to the Strategic

It is natural for leaders to develop a career that begins operationally and that, with the achievement of results, moves up to different leadership positions thanks to analytical, technical and management skills.  The operational leader is of the utmost importance and their knowledge of operational issues enables the understanding of the minutiae of the work at different levels.

When operational or technical leaders reach the highest level of the company, they are faced with a different management than they are used to.  They can no longer focus only on the results of the operational area, but in all areas of the organization, and they must make decisions that affect the sustainability of the organizations through time. 

The change from operational mentality to strategic vision can be difficult, but it can be made.  To achieve it, it is important to understand the complexities of the market, the competitive advantages, the relationships between the different areas of company and the motivations of the personnel, among others. 

It is common to see organizations with operational leaders lose sight of the importance of strategy, and at the same time, lose the opportunity consistently motivate the entire team in one clear direction.  I believe they think that venturing into strategic issues, which can be somewhat philosophical, can be perceived as a weakness.  On the contrary, the leaders who understand the power of strategy, are the ones who dare to dream and paint the desired future, the ones that move their workforce and achieve truly extraordinary things.  

To achieve the change from operational to strategic mentality, it might be necessary to invest in the development of the leaders.  Only with clarity on the importance of strategy can the desired impact be achieved.  This change in paradigm and its impact in the organizational culture involves understanding the current situation, the desired changes, going through the rounds and following up on advances.  It can take time, but it is time well spent. 

The definition of strategy, led by the head, but with the participation of the key personnel team, allows results to permeate and cascade to the rest of the organization in a natural and rapid manner.  With the base strategy defined, strategic discussions should be ongoing, and these accompanied by participation, communication and certain malleability, allow the company to move in an accelerated manner. 

A well-defined strategy, that has consensus from the leaders of the organization, and is backed up by follow up mechanisms, communication and revision, is the best tool that a CEO can have, with its team, to achieve great success. 

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