Strategic leadership revolves around the abilities of leaders to decide direction as well as the future actions of a business. In the process, they empower other members to make the right decisions on their own and move towards long-term profitability, short-term financial growth, and sustainable existence.
Strategic leadership is the quality that a person articulates with time. It is learned and implemented in various spheres of work to fetch profits qualitatively. Leadership is required everywhere and in every organization. Within a team, a leader is always articulating a strategy that makes most of the company’s profits.
While strategic leaders work in the present, they are well adept in setting their sights on the future. In the process, they analyze the inclinations of consumers, research trends, and create a vision that provides a well-built platform to lead their team to the desired goals.
So, if you are also curious to know what is strategic leadership, then this post will uncover all the mysteries.
What is Strategic Leadership?
In simple words, strategic leadership is a mixture of skills, perspectives, foresightedness, and behaviors.
It is also defined as the balance of science (data analytics) and art (curiosity). Strategic leaders make it happen under one unit and produce great results for the company.
It empowers an organization to have a particular level of readiness and plan for coping with any change in the business world.
A good strategic leader is known for his leadership qualities, which he or she shows in his work in the organization. To be an excellent strategic leader, you don’t have to be a Harvard graduate in MBA. You can learn all qualities with your keen skills and curiosity.
Strategic leadership quality is best proven in the corporate world. Many successful corporate businesses are implementing it to gain an advantage in their company’s growth chart—the most unpredictable the situation, the more excellent the opportunity to showcase the strategic leadership.
This can be achieved by putting all the critical skills of leadership at one time in a particular event or situation.
Successful leaders effectively convert the strategies to tactics. They can zoom in and zoom out from any of the situations.
Some key skills are used in the process of strategic leadership, and we will look into those here and now-
6 Skills of Strategic Leadership
Several essential skills are required in the strategic leadership process that works in every regard. These skills are implemented by strategic leaders to make an impact on the company’s growth. Following are some of the skills that are used for the process:
- The ability to anticipate different conditions.
- Challenge the diverse views about any topic.
- Interpret the likely repercussions for any event.
- Decide the most appropriate thing for conditions.
- Align other team members for the purpose.
- And learn from outcomes-driven from any event.
Every skill mentioned above is unique in their terms and conditions. These skills are concocted in the right amount and proportion to produce a grand strategy of leadership.
In a nutshell, strategic leadership is defined as a potential that can influence others to unite for a single purpose for an enterprise with the critical skills articulated. Let us dive deeper and understand the skills of strategic leadership
1. Ability to Anticipate
Anticipation about the incoming adversity is the main challenge of all organizations. The strategic leader observes it and executes the plan to overcome it. Most ordinary people fail to judge the prevailing situations in the periphery and get a situation that cannot be easily solved.
In contrast with such people, strategic leaders are more vigilant towards this. They can use their anticipation ability by scanning the whole environment to bring the change.
To get a better anticipation ability, an employee should do the following actions which can fuel their ability and ultimately can help the organization to grow steadily with this:
- Interact with all suppliers, customers, marketers, and other people to better understand situations.
- Keep an eye on various competitors by conducting market research, simulations that would give better perspectives on your competitor’s views surrounding the respective company.
- Use the various scenarios planning to get a good view of all plausible conditions at which the organization could land.
- List the number of customers who have walked off your firm and try to understand the organization’s shortcomings.
2. Ability to Challenge different Views and Assumptions
Strategic leaders have a slightly different mindset from others when it comes to an understanding of the views. These people always challenge other assumptions by asking relevant functions and questions.
Strategic leaders always encourage divergent views that would provide a diverse array of thoughts on one particular topic. After careful assessment and analysis of the problems through different perspectives, they make a concrete decision.
To do so, a strategic leader should have patience, courage, and an open mind to reflect thoughts and challenges definitively.
And to improve this quality, one needs to practice the following:
- The focus should be on the root cause of the problem and not on various symptoms of it. These symptoms may divert the root cause and lead to a malfunction of the organization.
- Always make a list of long-standing assumptions at your business or firm, which can help to better understand the current situations and challenges laid down.
- Include criticizers also to the board meetings to experience challenges in the firm.
3. Ability to Interpret
The best kinds of strategic leaders have the most useful inputs about adversaries and conflicts. They produce the most convincing interpretations of a difficult situation by scanning the scenarios with the required information.
They encourage conflicting thoughts, which would drive the organization to interpret subtly.
People need to understand patterns and various ambiguities of the situation to interpret it effectively and adversely.
The following should be done to boost up your ability to interpret any situation:
- During the analysis of ambiguous data, welcome other stakeholders to express their diverse thoughts on that topic.
- List the three plausible agreements of the scenario, which can be considered soon.
- Observation should be done very keenly with a sufficient amount of quantitative data.
4. Ability to Decide
In unfortunate and unplanned times, concerned people have to make tough calls or make decisions based on incomplete information. They unanimously jump to conclusions and make decisions. It doesn’t fetch good profits to the firm.
On the other hand, strategic leaders are not like that; they work on every parameter and every aspect thrown to them to every view. They insist on having complete information about the problematic situation.
After this, they maturely take the bold and reasonable decision. Leaders critically observe the various pros and cons of the situation by working on the repercussions of it. So, leaders make themselves ready for it.
Strategic leaders must know how to put their convictions, set up by the robust decision plan.
To improve decision-making ability, one should follow the following points:
- Always have a reframing conscience in your mind. Ask your colleagues about what else we have?
- The big decisions should always be divided into some chunks of small decisions to understand the components of full-fledged decisions better.
5. Ability to Align
The strategic leaders should be very efficient in finding common ground for their various stakeholders’ shared interests. This ability demands an active outreach by the strategic leaders. The success rate depends on proactive communication and trust-building.
To improve this alignment ability, one should follow:
- Communicate every time with your stakeholders and subordinates about the company’s scenario and other firm conditions.
- Keep a list of all key internal and external stakeholders’ key elements to map their positions and pinpoint the various alignments.
- Avoid the slightest of misunderstanding within the firm’s employees.
- Team leaders should do the vigilant watch.
6. Ability to Learn
Strategic leaders promote a learning environment around them always. It yields good results. Leaders always keep on learning whether it is good or bad.
The following can be done to improve the learning ability:
- Study the after-actions of various decisions taken in the firm and document the lessons learned from the significant decision changing milestones.
- Reward the managers or employees who do something good and courageous for the company but fails in results.
- Conduct the annual learning drives where people tend to learn new skills and upgrade the ones they possess.
Becoming an excellent strategic leader is not an easy task. To become one, the person should be able to find their minus points in the above skills and improve them.
Research shows that the strength in one’s ability will not compensate for the deficiency in other abilities. So, it is crucial to concoct every skill appropriately to become a good strategic leader.
Strategic leadership is the quality that is learned by embodying some character traits in one’s personality. It is not an innate value but a learned value for all.
Here is a video by Marketing91 on Strategic leadership.
Characteristics of Strategic Leadership
According to recent research, it is evident that strategic leadership has the following characteristics which make them different from other ordinary people:
1. Strong communication skills
Being an effective and proficient communicator is the most important pillar of strategic leadership. The leader should know how to convey their thought process to their team subordinates.
Communication also leads to soft skills, including having an open-door policy, holding regular meetings and interaction sessions, etc. The communicator should able to express their thoughts effectively and assertively to everyone.
2. Good listening skills
The second characteristic of this strategic leadership is listening skills. A good strategic leader should be a good listener. With excellent and effective communication, the listening skill is also required feature. It is essential to listen to what your team member’s views are.
A leader who is a good listener gains an extra opportunity to learn things at a faster rate. They further imply them to solve problems in the organization. This improves product and service and builds a strong company culture.
3. Passion and commitment towards the firm roles
Your excitement for the project defines the passion burning inside in you. It is very contagious when other team members surpass it. When the other team members imbibe your kind of excitement and dedication, they also align in the row to have the same passion for the project and roles.
Commitment is one such realm taken very seriously by the strategic leaders to complete the projects they have taken.
As per the famous saying, “positivity is the most infectious thing in this world.” The strategic leader includes positivity in their personality so that other team members or colleagues imbibe it from them.
Strategic leaders promote a healthy and positive environment around them, which clearly defines their energy and actions.
To be an excellent strategic leader, one needs to be adept at collaborations. The collaborations promote transparency in the team. The strategic leader should able to culminate various thoughts in one stream and then taking action accordingly.
A strategic leader should be discreet in their actions. They should allow diplomacy to prevail in their personality. Again, diplomacy is a learned trait that is used to solve conflicts by negotiations and sensitivity.
It supremely requires that the strategic leader should be unbiased and able to see all the points.
Now, in the final section, let us delve into some of the key principles upon which strategic leadership is based upon-
- Distributing responsibility
- Creating different paths for building and testing ideas
- Being honest and open about information
- Making it safe to fail
- Creating opportunities for experience-based learning
- Offering access to other strategists
- Hiring for transformation
- Bringing your whole self to work
- Finding the time to work
- Recognizing leadership development as a continuous process
Final Thoughts about Strategic Leadership!
The strategic leaders are strong communicators, good listeners, innovators, and diplomats who drive an organization positively.
This means strategic leadership is the one such trait required by every professional to meet up their company’s or firms’ requirements to gain substantial success. Strategic leaders think, act, and influence strategically.
All in all, strategic leadership is future-focused, broad in scope, and change-driven.
How important do you find the role of strategic leaders in an organization?
What is your strategic leadership definition?
Alternatively, check out the Marketing91 Academy, which provides you access to 10+ marketing courses and 100s of Case studies.