news2use | July 2022

Are you trying to create a big dog strategy when you need an underdog strategy?

At the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, Admiral Lord Nelson faced the French and the Spanish combined fleet of 33 ships with a much smaller British fleet of 27 ships.

The conventional naval tactics of the day were for the two opposing fleets to each stay in line, firing broadsides at each other. But the British Admiral Lord Nelson, significantly outnumbered, knew he needed an underdog strategy. He broke the British fleet into two columns and drove them at the Franco-Spanish fleet, hitting their line perpendicularly.

This was a risky strategy, yet at the end of the Battle of Trafalgar, the French and Spanish lost 22 ships, two thirds of their fleet. The British lost none. Nelson was mortally wounded, becoming in death, Britain’s greatest navel hero and will always be remembered as the master of the underdog strategy.

When leaders complain about not having the size, resources, or technology to compete head on with larger, better resourced competitors, they often try to imitate the larger competitor (a big dog strategy), which is a poor replacement for a powerful underdog strategy that plays to their strengths.

Instead of imitating others, discuss and debate your unique strengths and then design, focus, and align your underdog strategy to leverage these unique strengths.

Mid-year is an ideal time to refresh and realign your direction and strategy. Is your current strategy a weak imitation of others, or a purposeful playbook that highlights your strengths, your differences, and the value you create for clients?

Enjoy your July news2use and let the underdog in you rise!



“Relevant & pragmatic ideas, tools and insights to play at your best.”

For You

My boss wants me to become more strategic, an executive coaching client shared with me recently.

What does this mean for you, to be more strategic, I asked?

She, like others, was not sure and was burning energy and stressing out in mental guessing games trying to figure out what her boss really meant.

As a result of this executive coaching exchange, she went back to her boss to clarify what he meant and what it would look like for her, to become more strategic. Secondly, she asked her boss to name three leaders in the company that he saw as strategic leaders to which she could speak.

If your boss tells you to become more strategic, make sure you understand what that looks like and why it is important before you get stressed out about it.

If becoming a strategic leader is something you aspire to become, consider joining my upcoming “Becoming a Strategic Leader” program to kick off this October.

For You & Your Team

As a team leader, how do you contribute to these statistics?

Two out of three of employees think that performance reviews have no impact on their personal performance and 85% of companies are not satisfied with their performance management system, while 30% of performance reviews end up in decreasing employee performance.

Nevertheless, 76% of employees appreciate at least monthly performance reviews and feedback.

How do those you appraise talk about your mid-year performance appraisals?

Do they appreciate the performance appraisal with you because they

  • receive recognition for achievements thus far?
  • get more clarity as you align for the challenges and targets through the end of the year?
  • feel highly valued and a significant contributor to the team’s purpose and organizational mission?
  • feel listened to and have the feeling that they can share anything with you, without judgement?
  • get energized and excited about the ideas you discuss to tackle tough problems?
  • do most of the talking as you listen to them share about their work and whatever else comes to mind?
  • leave the mid-year conversation with a strong confirmation that this is a good place for them to be?

July is our “halfway point” of the year, a gentle reminder that a strategic leader’s calendar during this time is blocked for mid-year performance reviews with their people.

If you still have appraisals in front of you, bring the purpose to these exchanges that they deserve.

What is the question that you ask to get the most out of your mid-year performance appraisal process?


For You, Your Team & Your Business

Do your interpersonal and cross-functional collaborations create significant strategic outcomes? All too often strategy becomes a collection of functional racehorses trying to outrun each other. Yet without exceptional collaboration, strategic success is mediocre, at best.

Here are three questions to bring into your mid-year strategy review discussions, to “stress-test” your collaborative excellence. Answer each question with 10 (exceptional high) to 1 (extremely low).

  1. Our executives work together in such a way that it serves as the compelling source for highly collaborative practices throughout our organization.
  2. Effective collaborations (cross-site, cross-function) are benchmarked and shared across our business and poorly performing collaborations and bottlenecks are quickly addressed and improved.
  3. People in our organization, at all levels, are rewarded for demonstrating collaborative excellence.

For an effective tool to help you and your leadership assess your current strategy, use my senseful strategy scorecard.

People, Places & Technology

If you have not read Masters of Scale (Hoffman, Cohen & Triff), I highly recommend you read it over the summer holidays. The book shares obvious and not so obvious lessons from the world’s most successful entrepreneurs. Hoffman is the co-founder of LinkedIn and a partner at Greylock. He and his co-authors break down experiences (over one hundred interviews included) into actionable steps for ambitious leaders. It is a ten out of ten in my book. Remember to support your local bookstore.

Thought for the Day

Tell me what you pay attention

 to and I will tell you who you are.”

José Ortega y. Gasset


Contact Information

Dan Norenberg
Wensauerplatz 11
81245 Munich
Phone: +49 172 862 5123

About Dan Norenberg

Dan Norenberg improves leadership performance and organization results through Executive Ownershift®, his transformational growth process for executive teams. As a trusted advisor, consultant and professional speaker, Dan’s mission is to enable executive teams and their organizations to play at their best.