The current context in which we live is evolving. Our reality has completely changed since February 2020! I remember March 13th 2020 – it was my birthday. We had a team meeting. We were supposed to all be together and celebrate our recent success and the up-coming launch of my book. We did so remotely. We changed our ways and this has become our new normal. At the time, I was so excited to get my book out in the world – a project I had worked tremendously hard for. I knew it would bring so much value to leaders. I say this out of my 20+ years of experience of working with leaders and being able to contribute with my unique strategic contribution (USC). What is a USC? What could be the impact of gaining higher strategic abilities in your role? How can you do that? Let’s explore this!
You will shift from expert to coach
Over the years, I’ve seen leaders make mistakes and be very operational due to fear; fear of imperfection, of being wrong, of bad results, of failure. Here are some examples:
- Leaders – all of us- we tend not to play at our highest strategic level.
- We put energy on things that are not the most important
- We do things that others can and should do
- We neglect delegation opportunities
- We tend to state what should be done, how to do it and when, or even doing it ourselves rather than coaching.
Leaders can’t manage in fear – if they do, people will disengage and stop growing. You will not play at the right level and will deprive your organization and your team from all that you have to contribute. You have to overcome and surpass your own fears to fully play in your strategic and leadership role.
I recently interviewed Patricia Gauthier, Head Vaccines Business Unit: Executive Leader|Critical & strategic thinker. She demonstrates acting as a strategic coach when she addresses the importance of being aligned with her intentions, being mindful, being present, ego conscious, intuitive, having straight talks and balancing between being a leader-coach and a player.
You will create a clear focus
In order to survive and thrive in this environment you must bring your best game. If you are ready to take action, I suggest you start with defining your USC. Everybody I work with, once they have defined their USC, they start to operate differently.
The Unique Strategic Contribution (USC) is a concept that allows you to determine your highest strategic level, i.e. what only you, yourself need to accomplish within your team. It is the element you will need to focus on to create the impact and value you want to have on your organization.
I was recently working with a coachee on her USC, at first, she said ‘’my USC is to lead forward thinking global cross functional talent initiatives in order to create a workplace that provides fulfilling experiences for employees while contributing to the success of the company and influence my team by creating a vision and clarifying how all the initiatives are intertwined and more impactful together’’. After a coaching session, she clarified her USC as ‘’my USC is to work with executives and organizations to transform cultures’’.
Well, aren’t those quite different! Not everything changed once she defined her USC. Although her mindset did shift in the way she approached what she did. She prepared for meetings differently, she showed up differently, she spoke differently. Prior to identifying her USC, she mentioned things like: ‘I’m not recognized for what I bring to the organization’’. After shifting her mindset, she stated, ‘I am changing the culture and people see it and feel it.’
I invite you to identify your USC. Work with someone that can challenge you on it, ideally a coach, to bring it at its highest Strategic Level. Here is something to get you started.
- Think about what strategic impact you should have in your role.
- Think about the three top aspects of your role that only you can and should do
- In other words, if you were to concentrate only on these aspects and nothing else, you would be at the core of your role.
- Make sure it is challenging.
My USC is to __________________ in order to create _________________and influence my team by ______________.
My own personal USC is to create a new generation of inspiring and inspired leaders by positively impacting the lives of 1,000,000 leaders, directly or indirectly. Overcoming my own fears for my business results when the pandemic hit during the year helped me stay focus and creative to achieve my USC, As a result, through the launch of my book and my actual series of PODCATS, interviews and blogs ‘’Empower your team’’, this is my opportunity to play in my UCS and to inspire you to be at your best self and really empower your team so you can all thrive. Even in these times.
You will gain alignment
The next step I suggest is to think about everything you are doing that is not in your USC. Considering you should spend approximately 80% of your time in USC areas: How can you ensure that your projects and agenda are aligned with this UCS? How might everything else (or as much possible) could be delegated, shared, or reorganized to avoid from consuming so much of your time?
Patricia defines the impact of her USC: ‘’it helps you to say NO to some stuff, and say a big YES to other things, where you have the most impact, say no to things that don’t need to be done or that someone else than you can do. My USC forces me to play at the level I should, it is my aspiration and inspiration to focus my head space on the right things’’.
Other tips to play at your highest strategic level
When I asked Patricia how she builds her strategic skills, she shared 3 tips. First, the importance to ‘’take a step back when you move from a role to another and asking yourself which muscle you need to develop now’’. ‘’Acting at the next level forces me to take a step back from day-to day execution and really look at things like my boss would and asking me big picture questions like he/she would’’. Second tip was: ‘’I also love having thinking partners so we can think together between colleagues and build on each other thoughts vs thinking on your own’’. Third tip is to ‘’ find time in the calendar to think, think in front of a piece a paper, or looking for inspiration through reading books and articles. It supports you in creating dots and vision’’.
As always, I invite you to be inspired and inspire
President-founder of o2coaching, Author, Speaker and Coach