Strategic leadership is like a golf swing

It improves with targeted, active development. These six disciplines can help.

We live in an uncertain world. Credit unions must deal with increasing levels of volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Navigating this environment requires strategic thinking and strategic leadership. Yet in several research studies, senior leaders cite strategic thinking as the No. 1 gap on their leadership teams.

So, while it is a key skill for credit union leaders to develop as they progress in their careers, strategic thinking is not consistently or clearly defined. The best that some people have come up with is knowing how “to skate to where the puck is going to be.”

Even though strategic thinking can be hard to define, it is still critical to actively work on improving it. Being strategic does not automatically improve with age, experience or even educational level. Just being around a long time doesn’t make a leader strategic. Instead, strategic thinking is more like a golf swing, in that it only improves with targeted, active development.

So then, what does it mean to be a strategic leader in today’s environment? Before reading about the six disciplines of strategic thinking, please take a few minutes to consider what you think it means to be a strategic leader. In particular, what do you believe are the top two or three qualities of strategic leaders? Also, can you identify two or three leaders you would consider strategic? And how do you think leaders need to operate differently to become more strategic.


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