Food for Thought – Tactical Leadership

A lot of emphasis gets put on the buzz word “Strategic.”  We are encouraged to have a strategic vision, have a strategic purpose, act and think strategically, make strategic plans, manage strategic programs, execute strategic missions, lead strategically.  All this strategic focus is killing leadership at the tactical level where things things actually get done.

Don’t get me wrong, there needs to be strategic focus in an organization but not at the expense of tactical action.  Tactical leadership is where things get done, and if things aren’t getting down how on earth can you expect to accomplish any of those strategic goals or visions you have been developing?

Being a Tactical Leader

There is a lot to be said for being the boots on the ground, face in the mud tactical leader pushing the troops through the proverbial crap.  Your job is to train and motivate the team to get stuff done in order to win.  As a tactical leader you can be out front teaching by doing, engaging directly with problems, and forging trust that will help your team weather the storms they will face.

A tactical leader embodies the essence of what it takes to get the job done.  They have the strength, the know how and the grit to get into the thick of things and come out on the other side.   They can tell you they have “been there, and done that” and have likely already faced the problem you are dealing with or a something similar in the past.  All of this helps the tactical leader establish trust on the team, and not just trust that will allow you to turn your back and gently fall into each others arms at a weekend retreat, I’m talking the type of trust that will see you through hours of convoys along roads laced with improvised explosives and armed excursions into no mans land.

A strategic leader may tell you where to go, but a tactical leader will get you there.

Want to discuss things a little further, check out our closed facebook discussion group to share your thoughts and join in the discussion. Or you can email me directly at  If you are interested in further reading check out other Food for Thought articles and learn all about the Archetypes of Skill.  You can also sign up to receive The Friday Huddle, a short weekly email from me that gives you the tips, insights, and musings that have gotten me through the week.

Live Skillfully!


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