Everyone knows the importance of having and implementing a strategy in order to deliver results and achieve success.
We are all making choices every minute of the day.
At the same time there is a huge difference between making choices right now and making strategic choices.
Let me explain what I mean.
The day to day, hour by hour choices that we make are essentially task and finish decisions. You know the kind of thing, should I go out for dinner or go to the movies, watch the football or do the decorating, watch TV or listen to some music.
Of course these are necessary decisions but they are not strategic choices.
Strategic choices are those that we make that have long term benefits.
For example, when I left school at 15 and got my first job in an Accounts Department, I suddenly realised that there was a strategic choice to make.
I could either just focus on doing the job or do the job and start on the road of getting the professional qualifications I needed to earn a decent salary in the future.
There were friends who were earning more than me and thought I was mad investing 3 nights each week going to college, time studying and all the pressure of exams.
Yet in truth that investment of time and money really paid dividends long term.
Not only did I get the financial benefits (which in many ways were of secondary interest) but I got the opportunity to grow and develop personally, take on new challenges, build and lead teams, work with some great people.
I also learned a ton about myself and uncovered a whole lot of personal qualities that I could take and use to achieve results.
And that all started with a strategic choice to get professionally qualified.
So let me ask you what strategic choices are you taking as a leader, manager or aspiring leader?
Often people tell me that their employers have no budgets for people who want to take a professional qualification, go on a training course or work with a coach.
I am realistic. I know as a former Finance Director that cutting this type of expenditure is easy, sometimes necessary short term but ultimately detrimental long term.
At the same time I know that if you are a leader or aspiring leader you take personal responsibility for achieving results.
Maybe you are avoiding taking personal responsibility for your development, success, results and rewards because:
You are worried that it won’t pay dividends. Yes you might make investments that don’t always quite hit the mark or give you the return you anticipated. On the other hand if you don’t make any investments you are never going to get the return.
You think it is your employer’s responsibility. You and your employer are in a contractual relationship. They pay you an agreed salary for doing certain things. Of course the best employers will invest in their people but it is not a guarantee.
You don’t want success and rewards enough. There is nothing wrong with this. If you are content where you are that is great. However, in my experience people say they are content then get frustrated because they cannot influence
The reality is that nothing comes with cast iron guarantees.
At the same time you need to start to strike a balance between making the here and now choices and the strategic choices that help you to achieve the success and rewards that you desire.
So how do you start to make more strategic choices?
1. Get really clear on what want to achieve. Without this clarity it is difficult to get out of the starting blocks.
2. Understand why you want to achieve. There is a great saying that goes along the lines of unless your why is bigger than your what, you will never move forward or will give up as soon as the going gets tough.
3. Have clear decision criteria. There are always going to be many options. By having clear decision criteria, you can differentiate between options that can move you closer to what you want to achieve as opposed to those that just keep you doing things.
4. Take personal responsibility. If you want to achieve you need to take personal responsibility for making it happen.
The Bottom Line: Achievement starts with the choices you make. So what’s your first step?
Duncan Brodie helps accountants achieve more career success.
Since 2006 I’ve worked with in excess of 8,000 accountants and professionals in workshops, seminars and one to one helping them land their next jobs and become better leaders, presenters and business partners. Before that I spent 25 years in accountancy climbing the career ladder from Payments Clerk to FD. I’m a CIMA Fellow, Certified Professional Coach and Team Coach Facilitator.