How to Become a Strategic Leader

My career at Facebook started in 2006 as its first intern. Three years later, I became a rookie manager at the age of 25. Today, I manage an organization of hundreds of people. This path has brought countless new challenges, mistakes, and lessons, many of which are laid out in my new book, The Making of a Manager, a field guide for new managers.

One of the key areas of growth for me as a manager was strategy. As I progressed in my career, I knew that there was an expectation that the work I did would become increasingly strategic. But what does that really mean? This is what I used to think it meant:

Setting metric goals.
Thinking outside the box to come up with new ideas.
Working harder and motivating others to work harder.
Writing long documents.
Creating frameworks.
Drawing graphs on a whiteboard.
As a result, I tried to do as many of the above as I could. I brainstormed. I wrote epic, sweeping documents. I familiarized myself with the language of KPIs and measurements. Before each new task, I gave myself a mental check. This, I thought, must be strategizing.

Unfortunately, I was doing the equivalent of strumming a guitar and assuming I was making music. The core problem was that I didn’t really understand what strategy was. Because nobody had ever explained it to me, I figured that being strategic was simply engaging in high-level product and business discussions.

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