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Howard Schultz: 6 Habits of True Strategic Thinkers

Leader Featured: Howard Schultz
Company Name: Starbucks, Seattle SuperSonics, Square, Inc.
Title: Entrepreneur
Twitter Handle: @Starbucks
Source: Inc. Magazine

BouliBrand is sharing this video interview featuring an entrepreneur from Inc. Magazine's YouTube Channel: In the beginning, there was just you and your partners. You did every job. You coded, you met with investors, you emptied the trash and phoned in the midnight pizza. Now you have others to do all that and it's time for you to "be strategic." Whatever that means. If you find yourself resisting "being strategic," because it sounds like a fast track to irrelevance, or vaguely like an excuse to slack off, you're not alone. Every leader's temptation is to deal with what's directly in front, because it always seems more urgent and concrete. Unfortunately, if you do that, you put your company at risk. While you concentrate on steering around potholes, you'll miss windfall opportunities, not to mention any signals that the road you're on is leading off a cliff. This is a tough job, make no mistake. "We need strategic leaders!" is a pretty constant refrain at every company, large and small. One reason the job is so tough: no one really understands what it entails. It's hard to be a strategic leader if you don't know what strategic leaders are supposed to do. After two decades of advising organizations large and small, my colleagues and I have formed a clear idea of what's required of you in this role. Adaptive strategic leaders the kind who thrive in today's uncertain environment -- do six things well: Anticipate. Most of the focus at most companies is on what's directly ahead. The leaders lack "peripheral vision." This can leave your company vulnerable to rivals who detect and act on ambiguous signals. To anticipate well, you must: Look for game-changing information at the periphery of your industry. Search beyond the current boundaries of your business. Build wide external networks to help you scan the horizon better. Think Critically. "Conventional wisdom" opens you to fewer raised eyebrows and second guessing. But if you swallow every management fad, herdlike belief, and safe opinion at face value, your company loses all competitive advantage. Critical thinkers question everything. To master this skill you must force yourself to: Reframe problems to get to the bottom of things, in terms of root causes. Challenge current beliefs and mindsets, including your own. Uncover hypocrisy, manipulation, and bias in organizational decisions. Interpret. Ambiguity is unsettling. Faced with it, the temptation is to reach for a fast (and potentially wrongheaded) solution. A good strategic leader holds steady, synthesizing information from many sources before developing a viewpoint. To get good at this, you have to: Seek patterns in multiple sources of data. Encourage others to do the same. Question prevailing assumptions and test multiple hypotheses simultaneously. Decide. Many leaders fall prey to "analysis paralysis." You have to develop processes and enforce them, so that you arrive at a "good enough" position. To do that well, you have to: Carefully frame the decision to get to the crux of the matter. Balance speed, rigor, quality and agility. Leave perfection to higher powers. Take a stand even with incomplete information and amid diverse views Align. Total consensus is rare. A strategic leader must foster open dialogue, build trust and engage key stakeholders, especially when views diverge. To pull that off, you need to: Understand what drives other people's agendas, including what remains hidden Bring tough issues to the surface, even when it's uncomfortable. Assess risk tolerance and follow through to build the necessary support. Learn. As your company grows, honest feedback is harder and harder to come by. You have to do what you can to keep it coming. This is crucial because success and failure--especially failure--are valuable sources of organizational learning. Here's what you need to do: Encourage and exemplify honest, rigorous debriefs to extract lessons. Shift course quickly if you realize you're off track. Celebrate both success and (well-intentioned) failures that provide insight. Do you have what it takes?

BouliBrand is a boutique marketing + entrepreneurship + communications + branding movement focused on creating vibrant, purposeful and revenue-generating media experiences on a partner-by-partner basis. With strategic partnerships in New York, Toronto, Athens, Los Angeles, New Delhi and Shanghai, we work directly with savvy, driven and optimistic clients wanting to produce fresh platforms of communication and target nouveau markets internationally with their startup businesses and services. BouliBrand is propelled by Georgios (George) Stroumboulis (Γιώργος Στρουμπούλης) - an internationally seasoned marketing professional with tangible business experiences across multiple industries and diverse cultures. To learn more about BouliBrand, Georgios and the stimulating team spearheading the BouliBrand movement forward, get in contact at www.BouliBrand.com, www.Facebook.com/BouliBrand, www.Twitter.com/Stroumboulis (@stroumboulis), www.Instagram.com/Stroumboulis (@stroumboulis), www.LinkedIn.com/in/Stroumboulis, www.YouTube.com/Stroumboulis or www.Pinterest.com/BouliBrand. BouliBrand shares progressive and innovative video interviews with the world's leading leaders who are innovators, entrepreneurs, game-changers, misfits, tycoons, specialists, risk-takers in the area of business, finance, startups, government, marketing, branding, investment, networking, public relations, internet, web, creative and social media movement. We gather video interviews we feel might be worth reviewing for our visitors, followers, clients and partners.

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