Many of the leaders I’ve worked with over the years have found strategic thinking and planning an agonizing process. It’s the ‘not knowing’, the multiple perspectives and the sheer complexity of it all that’s so difficult to stomach.

Then turning all that into a plan can feel impossible.

The urge is to leave all that behind and just get something moving! – and of course, sometimes it’s good to start there. But after a while, that’s just a muddle.

Taking the space to work strategy through, simply, iteratively, with multiple parties is incredibly worthwhile.

A truthful assessment of current performance, as well as a decent analysis of the current and unfolding context is essential. These things can be painful, and dispiriting at first – but also, with a dash of resilience, they can unearth inspiration and the energy to create.

In this way, strategy starts to underpin, quite naturally, the way things unfold in the business.

The movement of circling through deeper purpose, higher vision, pragmatism, goals, outcomes, and measures takes time. It’s hard work, and it’s heart work – which gets lighter as people start to feel the interconnections with each other more deeply.

And this journey together, through strategy, continues; everything is changing all the time, and little adjustments or bigger changes in direction need to be made as you go along.

The skills required are patience, presence, listening, looking, watching, contemplating, weaving, imagining, improvising, playing, loving, crystallising, following, agreeing, ordering …

Probably I’ve missed out other important skills!

But what I’m trying to say is this is probably one of the most important elements of leadership, and it’s tricky, AND it’s a tremendous life challenge. And it’s so important to all of us that we work these things through.

If we are to lead with integrity, with respect for each other and for the planet – it’s worth taking time to shape strategy together. Again and again.

As someone who has been described by colleagues as ‘not very strategic’ over the years, and has sweated many times to work this through with clients, and in my own consulting world – I think I’m just starting to get the hang of it. It’s both circular and linear. And it’s about finding our flow together, in service, with love.

Let me know how you relate to strategy. I’d love to hear.

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