Erik Barnlund

Are You a Strategic Leader or a Tactical Leader?

Actually, the best leaders combine a little of both. But whichever way you trend, it’s important to know how (and when) to tap into your strategic or tactical side to use it most effectively.

How do you know when to be strategic or tactical?

An effective leader is in tune with the business and where it needs to be. He or she can wear the hat of a strategist or become the tactics master. It all depends on what the team needs at any given point.

Know your inner tactician

Strengths of tactical leaders -- Tactical leaders are the list people. They’re organized and detailed. To a great tactical leader, it’s all about the plan. Make no mistake, the details are very important to them and the execution of every check box in the plan is imperative. The tacticians are also the most prepared people. They’re carefully crafted and precise. These are the kind of people you want next to you in a battle because they’re going to be thorough and accurate in whatever they do.

Weaknesses of tactical leaders -- They’re great at building the framework of a plan, but sometimes the execution of the plan takes precedence over the people part of the equation. It’s more about checking the box than how people feel along the way. A tactical leader is also oftentimes more risk averse.

Know your inner strategist

Strengths of strategic leaders -- Strategic people can see the future with clarity. They can envision things and paint the picture. Great strategic leaders can zoom out and not be distracted by the granularity of what’s going on around them. They can often find success by just jumping in and figuring out a situation without a plan. Many strategic thinkers don’t care about details. They care about the end results. They’re often known to have a lot of charisma and to lead through force of personality. They often succeed because they inspire others to share their passion.

Weaknesses of strategic leaders – While strategic leaders have a vision, they often have a hard time painting it for others. That said, they can also be poor tactical planners. Strategic people are often much more concerned about the goal and not so much about if they missed a few steps along the way.

Which kind of leader are you?

I encourage you to look into the DISC profile tool for personality assessment. It will help you understand your strengths and challenges in strategic and tactical thinking.

It’s important to know your own strengths and weaknesses, as well as those around you. Through a better understanding, you will be able to make the most of your own talents and build more effective teams.

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