While all members of a company’s management team have some responsibility for strategy, they’re not always in synch with where the company’s currently positioned and where it needs to go. A strategic manager helps top leadership establish and prioritize business objectives that align the company with opportunities and protect it from unwarranted risks. These managers use analytical and problem solving skills to build roadmaps to lead the company toward gaining a sustainable competitive advantage.
The strategic manager works with workplace leaders to find and take advantage of opportunities for growth and improvement. This manager uses tools such as balanced scorecards to identify business strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. After analyzing the results, the strategic manager leads teams in developing plans to align organizational objectives with achievable targets intended to meet stockholder and leadership expectations. Plans typically drive improvements to internal processes, customer focused services and products and marketing strategies.
Setting the Direction
The strategic manager uses project and program management skills to lead teams in assessing strategic planning projects. Knowledge of and experience working with project and portfolio management methodologies helps this manager to align multiple projects focused on setting the strategic direction of the company. Planning projects include the development of financial models and business cases that enable executives to make informed decisions before establishing strategic objectives.
Skills and Qualifications
Strategic managers should have excellent analytical, presentation and communication skills. Dynamic characteristics give this manager the power to influence based on clearly articulated recommendations and concisely presented data that anticipate leadership questions. Candidates for a position as a strategic manager should have several years of progressive business experience. Most companies expect strategic managers to hold master's degrees and prefer candidates with MBAs.
Strategic managers typically fit within a company's top leadership team or report to a member of that team, although titles for this position can vary, ranging from project manager to vice president. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reported a median salary for top executives of $101,650 in 2012. Projected job growth through 2022 is at 11 percent, which is on pace with job growth overall.
2016 Salary Information for Top Executives
Top executives earned a median annual salary of $109,140 in 2016, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. On the low end, top executives earned a 25th percentile salary of $70,800, meaning 75 percent earned more than this amount. The 75th percentile salary is $165,620, meaning 25 percent earn more. In 2016, 2,572,000 people were employed in the U.S. as top executives.