Business Acumen & Strategic Management Skills Training in Chicago, IL

Business Acumen and Strategy: Leaders' competitive advantage. in the Chicago area

A company’s performance is measured by its ability to meet profitability and revenue goals. By helping your team improve their strategic thinking capacity and financial acumen, amongst other business acumen competencies, leaders are able to size up challenges, beneficially respond to opportunities and successfully drive results. Business acumen is a critical leadership competency that can and must be developed.

Evaluating strategic planning consultants? Our data-driven strategic alignment program actively facilitates your strategic plan while building business acumen. Call us at 281-469-4244 or visit our Strategic Planning process page to learn more.

Who would benefit from the training?

TurnKey Coaching & Development Solutions’ customized Business Acumen & Strategic Thinking for Managers programs combine learning with real work projects to produce strategic solutions while developing your team’s business and commercial acumen. The training focuses upon developing strategic thinking and planning competency, strategic agility, financial and business acumen and more through a customized, business simulation competition experience.

Business Acumen & Strategic Thinking for Managers

Alternatively, our data-driven strategic alignment program builds business acumen while fostering alignment and commitment to a common vision. We also have a unique strategic alignment (similar to strategic planning) workshop that uses research-backed tools to drive out leadership’s priorities and the path forward, while cultivating a unified vision and business acumen. For more on our Strategic Growth Consulting and X-Ray program, please visit here.


Brochure for the Business Acumen Training Program


As the cohort works collaboratively, through real business problems, the program improves your managers and/or HiPos’ leadership, collaboration, and teamwork skills. We believe it’s better than business simulation competition for your team, as all of the projects are selected to specifically solve company identified challenges.

An effective leadership development program includes competency development opportunities in three areas - Leading Self, Leading Others, and Leading in Business.

Our business strategy simulation and business acumen program can be optioned alone, or as part of a more comprehensive approach to leadership development. When optioned as part of a builds upon foundational competency development including interpersonal effectiveness and managing and motivating a team, for example. Our comprehensive leadership development program builds over time through phase 1 (leading self), phase 2 (leading others) and finally, phase 3 (leading in business).

Comprehensive leadership  development training

How does it work?

Our Leading in Business Training focuses on Business Acumen Skills through experiential learning opportunities (better than business simulation training), customized cohort work projects, the collaboration between peers and mentors, business case development and capstone project presentations (a la Shark Tank presentations).

Note: Our programs are facilitated on or off-site for organizations. We do not offer public seminars at this time. While we have speakers and trainers that are available to facilitate and speak at public engagements, we do not offer public seminars.

Objectives

The learning objectives for the program include:

Organizational
  • Strategic human resource development
  • Align development with the Mission, Vision, and Values
  • Increased competency
  • Business competency development designed to impact the bottom-line
  • Team projects with tangible strategic impact on the business
  • Direct observational opportunities between executives, board members, and high-potential employees in support of future leader identification and succession planning
  • Development aligned with strategic priorities
At the Cohort Level
  • Encourage participants to routinize the sharing of best management practices
  • Expose leaders to cross-functional problem solving with minimal risk to the business
  • Build alliances across functions that can develop into concrete linkages for future collaboration
  • Healthy competition and collaboration, a la “Shark Tank” type challenge and capstone projects
At the Individual Level

The program delivers a business simulation experience with real-work projects for a holistic and immersive, active-learning program. Participant learning objectives include:

  • Develop strategic and critical thinking skills
  • Develop quality decision-making skills
  • Learn how to make a business case
  • Gain an understanding of all areas of a business’ operations
  • Ensure foundational confidence in financial analysis competency
  • Comprehend the importance of strategic agility
  • Build financial acumen and budgeting skills
  • Develop the ability to ask questions that generate new thinking and solutions
  • Set effective team goals
  • Practice negotiation and influence skills
  • Develop insight into the interconnectedness of business functions and operations
  • Collaborate with their team to establish plans
  • Presentation skills development
  • Evaluate and Improve work processes
  • Align organizational systems
  • Engage in systems thinking and a continuous improvement focus
  • Develop risk management skills
  • Understand the builder mindset vs. the protector mindset


leadership development program brochure

In 2012, the Society for Human Resource Management surveyed Human Resources Professionals and asked what the four most critical business competencies would be in 10 years. Those surveyed believed the most critical competencies were Business Acumen (42%), Organizational Leadership and Navigation (40%), Relationship Management (37%), and Communication (35%).

According to the survey, business acumen was the most highly rated competency required for business success. Yet, business acumen is like the synchronized swimming of business, as a fringe skillset, it's complex and so much more than just business knowledge. Anyone can get in a pool and dance. But the art of synchronizing all movements in perfect unison with teammates - that's what opened Olympia's gates for a sport on the fringe. Business acumen is often ignored in development programs, mostly because it's hard to pinpoint, let alone to develop.

Business acumen is the ability to assimilate functional knowledge with the what, how, and why of business. For example, a leader may be quite astute in the disciplines of finance and accounting, but less competent at evaluating how the nuances of external and internal factors inform astute financial decisions. A CFO who only knows "tighten the belt" will never understand the builder mindset required for business growth. Likewise, a CEO who only understands - grow at all cost, will never understand the protector mindset required for business sustainability.

When / Important Logistics / Important facts for ensuring success

In John Maxwell’s best-seller, The 12 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, he explains the law of the lid. This law states that an organization will only rise to the level of competency of its’ leadership. High-performing leadership teams master the soft-skills of interpersonal effectiveness, the hard skills of analytics and finance, and the nuanced intricacies of business acumen. Organizations that provide development opportunities in all three areas, raise the lid!


What are the logistics and delivery formats of the program?

Our programs are infinitely flexible. We custom-design each program to be the right fit for your organization, goals, and budget. For some organizations, that means a “lunch and learn” or virtual, instructor-led training to introduce the concepts of business acumen. For other companies, the need to build their team’s business acumen skills is more urgent and a more comprehensive, skill development approach is available.


Our premiere program includes:

  • Facilitated stakeholder meetings to identify the company-specific goals and capstone projects
  • Business case development coaching
  • Real work-projects for business-case preparations and shark-tank-like presentations to the executive team and/or the board of directors
  • Active-learning workshops - typically two full days plus half-day sessions over the course of the development program (12 to 18 months)
  • Group coaching with each cohort group by an experienced management consultant and executive coach
  • Facilitated project meetings
  • Internal mentors following well-defined rules to ensure fairness across all teams
  • Business case presentations in a shark tank type session


Leading in business workshops

Business acumen and strategic thinking are key competencies for driving a competitive advantage – especially during increasingly turbulent times.

Business Acumen can be defined as the keenness and ability to understand the overall dynamics of the company's business, financials, operations, market factors, and environment and assimilate this knowledge wisely while compelling others to execute smartly. Leaders with a deeper sense of business astuteness have the ability to see the big picture and are capable of assessing the situation more holistically. Executives with the skillset are able to logically and confidently adapt the company's strategies to achieve favorable outcomes, while short-sighted leaders cripple an organization in the long run.

Theoretically, possessing business acumen translates to understanding the financials, the factors that will impact their market, the competition, economics, operational efficiencies, and predicting the future, while motivating and engaging their workforce.

One of the more nuanced attributes is the capacity to manage ambiguity and be adaptable enough to shift gears comfortably. As speed is of the essence, strategic and critical thinking informed by strong business acumen enables a leader to size up a situation quickly, and make course corrections to overcome a challenge or swiftly seize an opportunity. A high-performing leader is able to consider the impact of extensive and complex business conditions and set a course that engages and inspires employees to not only follow but champion.

One may ask, "doesn't business acumen come from experience?" In short, yes. But what company has the luxury of waiting for their leaders to catch up with high-performance via the passage of time. Patience is a virtue - not a development strategy! An effective and strategic Human Resources leader advocates for development programs that will quicken mastery through active-learning workshops, mentoring, personal and peer-to-peer coaching, and business simulation. In a simulation, for example, managers are able to make bad decisions without affecting the business. These failures are brilliant learning experiences. We remember these lessons and use our mistakes to inform future decisions. By structuring a training program that will force leaders to think critically and even set them up to experience a few failures, companies can build business acumen competency within their workforce. You can literally create a safe environment where business keenness has a chance to flourish and leaders have a chance to test their skills and experiment with decision-making.

Quality decision making, business sagacity, and astute analysis can be intentionally developed. When the research shows that most managers and leaders believe they understand the business while those same leaders believe their peers do not, we have an issue. An unskilled leader doesn't understand the business, is not knowledgeable about policies, trends, technology, and the factors that affect the organization. They may know who the competition is, but don't grasp why studying what they do and how they do it matters. They undervalue strategy and remain predominantly focused on the tactical, and while they may be high-performing technically, they will surely underperform as a leader, as an astute strategy is a difference that creates longevity.

The Training Problem

All training isn't the same; one size doesn't fit all. This is especially true for Business Acumen training. While the wisdom of training and coaching isn't disputed, for a business acumen training program to have a lasting impact, there are important attributes to consider including:

business acumen training program  components
  • Change management components
  • Real-world business simulations and work-projects
  • Subject matter experts to inform and mentor participants
  • Practical methodologies for learning about lateral and vertical thinking models
  • Top-down support and follow-through to ensure engagement and prioritized attention
  • Performance management protocols and oversight
  • Quality assurance measures
  • Coaching to foster integration and skill practice
  • Peer-to-peer interaction to maximize learning retention and develop additional learning opportunities

Our business acumen training program is designed specifically to be a strategic fit; meaning our proven curriculum serves as the foundational content that is customized to be relevant for your business, industry and strategic priorities.

Logistics - What is the format for the Customized Business Acumen Programs?

Depending upon the goals and budget, we have programs that will meet almost any logistical requirements including:

  • Lunch-and-learns and brown-bag learning programs
  • Half-day to two-day programs
  • Virtual instructor-led training (vILT) (interactive, realtime online training)
  • We have on-site/off-site workshops (no public seminars available at this time)
  • Comprehensive change and development programs include a variety of the above formats plus team coaching, mentors, e-learning options, and a la carte components.

Each program is designed to actively engage participants in rich learning experiences and adult-learning best practices.

NOTE: We do not have public training events. While our programs are available for groups only, we do have individual, one-on-one coaching programs for individuals seeking business acumen coaching. Please inquire.

See also our Strategic and Critical Thinking and Business/Commercial Acumen Training FAQ’s here.

Leadership Development through Business Acumen for Managers Training is an investment in the long-term viability of the organization. Successful companies acknowledge the importance of intentionally developing business acumen, strategic thinking, risk analysis, and financial acumen of their leaders, managers, and yes, even their frontline employees. When a company's human capital fully comprehend how their roles contribute to the organizations' success, they are more likely to seek cost-efficiencies and perform in a way that ensures the company's profitability. With widespread business acumen, companies can have a powerful asset — educated, knowledgeable and motivated leaders.

@ Directly email our local business acumen trainings leader and get a complimentary consultation:


We will call you or send a reply usually in 24 hours.
Privacy Policy


Disclaimer: Shark-Tank-Like* We are not associated in any way with the television show. We think it’s an awesome show and use the verbiage “shark-tank-Like” because it accurately describes how our final capstone, business simulation competition, and business strategy simulation presentations are experienced by our clients. SHARK TANK is a trademark of Sony Pictures Television Inc. and is not associated in any way with this company or program.