It is one thing to think strategically, that is, look at the world and your company as your CEO might do so. The ability, as I explained in a previous post, to think strategically is a positive trait for middle managers to possess.
But if you want have real impact, you need to act on your ideas. Your idea, which you will translate into an initiative or a project, must contain three elements before you proceed.
One, your idea must complement the strategic direction of your company. If you are an engineering firm, your initiative should complement the engineering services your firm provides. That is, do not propose buying a restaurant or opening a spa. Those might be fun to do, but they do not complement engineering.
Two, your idea must have a strong business case. What you want to do must add value to the company, that is, it must do one or more of the following: increase revenue, reduce costs, improve quality, or improve customer satisfaction. Business case rules!
Three, your idea must be blessed by your boss, or at least by someone higher up. Many bosses will welcome your initiative as long as you involve them in the process, and of course share credit with them. Also, once your boss is on board, you can advocate the support of more senior people. That is, do not go around your boss; go with your boss. [Note: if your boss is a bully, do not to do anything without permission. Doing so could jeopardize your career.]
If you do proceed, follow your project through till the end. Make certain you are shepherding it through to conclusion. However, if you are asked to hand over to a peer or colleague, make it known that you are available to help manage, if the need arises.
Acting strategically will position you as a person of influence as well as one of action.
John Baldoni is an internationally recognized leadership development consultant, executive coach, author, and speaker. In 2009, Top Leadership Gurus named John one of the world’s top 25 leadership experts. This article draws upon themes expressed in John’s newest book, Lead Your Boss: The Subtle Art of Managing Up (Amacom 2009).