The more I coach new partners and aspiring partners, the more I see an inability to think and act strategically. It’s a skill that can and should be learned, so probably the deficit is due to the fact that most of their education, training and work experience has been in execution, not thinking about what is being executed or why.
Since your first day, you were given assignments to complete. You did so and then passed them on to your manager. Soon, you were the one assigning work to those your junior and used what they gave you to complete your assignment for the client. Then you presented your work to the client, evaluating the engagement’s success based on delivering a quality product, on time and on budget.
While all of this is essential, it is not strategic. Tactical thinking assumes that the project’s completion is the result. So you complete it and then wait (passively) for another assignment to be given to you or look (actively) for another opportunity with that client.
Strategic thinking is seeing the bigger picture that your client sees. If you were thinking strategically, you would know your client’s overall goals and aspirations and how your work contributes to those goals. You would conduct your work with an eye to finding additional ways that you could contribute to their goals. You would present your work in such a way as to demonstrate how the successful completion of your work advances their pursuits.
Strategic thinking can be applied to almost any situation and this century’s partners must be adept at viewing their work, their value, and their firm beyond tactical execution. When you demonstrate your ability to think and act strategically, you position yourself as a viable partner candidate, regardless of where you are in your career. It’s never too early to think and act strategically.