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STEP 2: Thinking and Acting Strategically > Strike the Right Balance - Pg. 27

T HINKING AND A C T I N G S T R AT E G I C A L L Y / 2 7 how to operate as a member of a team as on Everest, but he also knew how to create a team as in his efforts to improve the infra- structure of Nepal. Hillary also knew when to go outside the sys- tem, as he did so often in order to get things done. Working the system begins with prioritization. That is a lesson that anyone seeking to lead up needs to understand and implement. Strike the Right Balance One of the most common frustrations I hear from leaders who are asked to lead up is the challenge to think strategically. Often they get this admonition from their boss during an annual perform- ance review. The comment may be valid, but the insight is vague because the boss seldom defines what she means by "strategically." By nature most middle management jobs are tactical in nature. Most managers have been promoted to their positions by virtue of mastering their chosen competency, that is, doing what they do well; they are experts their field. Accountants are promoted into management because they are masters of the balance sheet. Engi- neers are promoted because they demonstrate an ability to imple- ment a design to specifications. Marketers are promoted because they have developed plans that position their products for suc- cess. Such managers have succeeded at being tactical; they have been proficient at mastering the details of their jobs and under- standing the competencies of their direct reports who are by and large doing what the manager used to do. Managing a department also requires an ability to do what is necessary to keep the team moving in the right direction. As the team leader, you become the go-to person for getting things done; you do what it takes to make things happen. That is, when a deadline approaches, you pitch in to do the work of your subordinates. You are not micro-managing, you are working alongside them to get the job done. When you are challenged to be strategic, however, you need to take a step back from tactics, that is, from the "doing" in order