How to Build More Strategic Teams

To quote Tina Fey, “in most cases being a good boss means hiring talented people and then getting out of their way.” Too often leaders want their teams to be more strategic but don’t recognize that they are the roadblock in making their team more strategic. Have you ever had a boss that delegates a task, then follows up the next day, the following day, and so on with their feedback and opinion. This constant interruption and involvement is micromanaging, but worse, it’s preventing you from working through a process to solve the task at hand. It is impeding your ability to be strategic. Are you this boss? If so, is what you can do to develop more strategic teams.

  1. Give your team autonomy. Micromanaging is the quickest way to stifle strategic thinking. The more you tell an employee “what I would do,” the less they will think on their own. This also increases dependency on you as the leader which will result in more time spent helping employees find solutions and less time for you to be strategic. Find opportunities to delegate and then allow them to approach the task in their own way. If they do come to you, use open-ended questions to help them think through solutions.
  2. Reduce red-tape. If possible, find opportunities to reduce the red-tape or rules and regulations that could impede their ability to develop solutions. Loosening restrictions will allow your team to be more innovative and look at challenges with a new lens, allowing for new solutions. Remember that rules and policies can become outdated and are worth being challenged to ensure you are not left behind your competition.
  3. Embrace diverse thinking. Instead of saying, “this is how we do things” or “we tried that” practice being curious. Actively listen to what they’re saying and start with the belief that you can learn something from them. The more that you are curious and don’t shut down ideas, the more comfortable your team will be at developing and testing different solutions. 
  4. Let them make mistakes. Remove the fear of failure from your team by encouraging them to take risks. If you do not remove this fear, the more likely your employees will come to you for approval or compare what they’re doing to what has been done in the past, which will make them less strategic.
  5. Build Transparency and Trust. To build trust, honor your commitments, communicate with respect, listen, and show them you value them. Without trust your team will be less likely to try and think strategically as they will seek your approval to ensure they are doing what you specifically want done. In addition, if possible be transparent in your communication. The more information you share with your team, the more they can understand how leaders make decisions at higher levels of the business. This will help them develop their big-picture thinking skills, which is critical to being a strategic thinker.