How Do You Move from Manager to Strategist? Four Suggestions

Situation: The CEO of a small-to-medium business wants to reduce day-to-day management activities and spend more time focusing on new opportunities. How do you shift focus from management to strategy and how do you identify the right person to take on the management role?

Advice from the CEOs:

  • As CEO your primary focus needs to be on the future more than the day-to-day. As a smaller company, the management role needs to be filled by an individual with broad multidisciplinary experience. To replace yourself, you need a Renaissance person – someone with industry knowledge and experience who buys into your business model.
  • As you evaluate candidates, look for attitude, not resume.
    • Analytical skills are critical – mental capacity.
    • These need to be complimented by guts – emotional intelligence.
  • Your current business is not the business that you and your co-founders started. It is a larger entity, more solid, and you need to bring in people who can take it to higher stages of growth. Finding the right person to fill your role is a long-term process.
    • Bring in 3 to 4 solid candidates as employees in important roles. Test them with challenges to see who can grow into the larger role of company manager.
    • Look for people who can grow your downstream businesses as candidates to manage the full business.
  • In the current market you have time on your side. While hiring is improving in some regions, there are still many more candidates out there than available jobs. This is unlikely to change soon.

2 thoughts on “How Do You Move from Manager to Strategist? Four Suggestions

  1. CRChandrashekar

    Roles of “Manager” and “Strategist” are not mutually exclusive. Manager needs to be a part-strategist since his short and medium term goals and plans should be aligned with the long-term vision of the stakeholders. Strategist (CEO, if you wish), should align his vision and strategies for the company with the present realities as well as the SWOT of the organization. CEO’s role is a blend of both, with greater accent on strategies without abdicating the “manager” responsibilities of delivering results in the near-term.

  2. Sandy Post author

    Thanks for this comment. I agree that the two roles are not mutually exclusive, though Malcolm Gladwell will point out that it is relatively rare to find an individual who excels in BOTH areas. In this case, the CEO is thinking that while he will never completely abandon his managerial role, he wants to lessen his focus on day to day management and increase focus on stategic direction. Thus his question.

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