Job Seeker Soft Skills: Leadership and Strategic Thinking
Lifelong learning is the fundamental skill of life and work. It is an investment of focus that is the way to move beyond “you just getting what you get” and “hoping for the best.”
To get you started, I’m launching a short series of posts to inspire you to go further on critical soft skills subjects by sharing a micro-summary that encapsulates how I teach them and gives you a rapid start on defining the topic for yourself.
Suppose you decided to count all the number of times that the words “strategy” and “leadership” appear in business publications (books, magazines, blogs, papers). You’d quickly discover that the task of counting them all is humanly impossible.
The business world seems to revolve around an axis of leadership and strategy with good reason – they are tried and true disciplines that get things done. Given the depth of scholarship on both topics, you might think that puts them out of reach for the ordinary person who’s too busy trying to get the work done to spend time studying them. Sure, they’re helpful to learn, but who has time for that?
Background: “I like Ike”
On both topics, I turn to one of the most successful strategic leaders of the 20th Century: Supreme Allied Commander in WW2 and US President Dwight D. Eisenhower.
I find that Ike’s philosophy is summarized best in these two quotes.
“The art of getting someone else to do something that you want to be done because he wants to do it”
“Plans are worthless, but planning is everything”
The Starting Point:
You can apply these two quotes this way.
Leadership: Think of leadership as the ability to get people to do things by persuasion and trust. Ordering people around is not leadership; that’s management at best. Getting people to a common goal because they’re motivated to achieve it, now that’s leadership.
Strategic Thinking: Think of strategy as planning for the future but always be prepared to adjust once you take action. Don’t get attached to the plans or outcomes, but instead focus on the process and the goal.
Leadership in the workplace is everyone’s job, even if you’re not the boss or manager. Knowing how you demonstrate it is vital for job interview prep. Developing your leadership philosophy is a non-negotiable for anyone who leads others, and learning how your decisions impact others is a valuable skill to build.
Strategy is for everyone, not just companies. You make a strategy with every goal set you, from the simplest to the grandest. Showing you can select, work towards, and achieve goals is the surest way to prove your value and gain a sense of pride. Start with seeing things strategically instead of merely reacting to events.