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Strategic Leadership For Your Life

From Be the Horse or the Jockey by Jeanne Gulbranson, BBD strategist, leadership expert and award-winning author.  You can purchase Horse or Jockey and Jeanne’s other books on

Make Strategic Choices about Your Life

You have choices. You may not have a lot of choices, but still—you have choices.

Have you heard this statement as often as I have? “You have to be happy in what you do. Do a job that fulfills you—something you care about.”  What are people thinking when they make this statement? Did they really decide that they’d be totally fulfilled being an office manager, or director of manufacturing, or the tester of electrical circuits, or whatever it is they do? Or did they need a job (and a paycheck) one day and then they found one? Isn’t it more likely that they suddenly found themselves filling a role that they somehow drifted into rather than strategically selected?

If you have consciously selected the career that you have now—I’m delighted for you! I want to know your name so I can put you on my short list of “People who knew what they wanted to do, found the job, are happy doing it, and will probably do it for the rest of their lives.” For the rest of us, we seem to work at what we found ourselves doing one day. (If I got to pick what I thought [think] would really make me happy, I’d be a world famous ballerina. Believe me—that was [is] never going to happen!)   

I have made a few conscious career choices, however. One of these was to become a Strategist. Like many of my other career paths, my decision to be a Strategist was originally serendipitous—it was made when the opportunity presented itself. I certainly didn’t grow up calling out Strategist as “what I wanted to be when I grew up.” Who knew what a Strategist was when I was in high school or college? Not me! Today, who knows what a Strategist is?

Even after many years of doing it, I’m still learning my job, and I’m sure I’ll continue to discover nuances long after I quit doing it. One important aspect that I’ve determined, however, is that a Strategist helps to make dreams happen. A Strategist aligns the desire with the outcome and fills in all the blanks to get from “want or need to have” to the realization of the dreams. The “dream-starters” may be corporations or teams on a professional level, or a family or individual on a personal level. It doesn’t matter where the dreams come from, the process and the expected results are the same: do what is required to get there!

Achieving the desired outcome—making the dreams come true—requires the knowledge and skill of many people (and sometimes a little luck), along with strategy and planning.

An abbreviated list of steps in strategizing includes the following:

  1. Know what the objective is and why. What is the dream?
  2. Recognize all the integrated or ancillary elements (people, time, money, and other initiatives) that a strategic decision and plan will impact. Who will my dream touch?
  3. Identify all the actions that need to be included in the tactical plan to successfully deliver on a strategy. What do I have to do to realize the dream?
  4. Determine what or who can interfere with attaining the objective. Who are the dream-spoilers and how can I eliminate, avoid, and/or mitigate the risk/s they present?
  5. Craft the plan and ensure that all the people who need to execute are well-positioned in knowledge, skills, and tools to do so successfully. What skills, knowledge, and abilities do I and others included in my plan need to accomplish our goals?

Make sure the strategy is modified if required, but still intact, achievable, valuable, and desirable all the way to the Finish Line!

You are the driver of your own life–make strategic leadership a part of it.

How are your current strategies working for you? Comment below–we'd love to hear.


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