Strategic leadership is difficult in most organizations. Less than one tenth of all leaders exhibit strategic skills. Strategic skills aren’t just needed in times of growth. Strategic skills are needed during tough times too — when resources are stretched, it critical to make sure that those resources are concentrated in the right priority areas.
Operational leadership requires a different set of skills from strategic leadership. Leaders face incredible demands to make short-term numbers, show direct successes. Operational leaders who outshine at responding to short-term targets and solving operative problems often feel paralyzed. They feel insecure when they confront challenges that are comprehensive and have durable consequences on their organizations.
Strategic leadership is all about how to lead an organization and position the organization for the future while meeting current demands. Strategic leadership requires a leader to contemplate the long-term factors that influence the organization, take action, and persuade others to promote the durable success of the organization.
- Strategic leadership is founded on a strong understanding of the connections between the organization, the demands of the marketplace and the environment. It calls for taking a extensive view, connecting with the right people, analyzing important information about the organization and the business environment, probing various circumstances and facilitating conversations. It is important to identify connections between enablers and outcomes and the key noise factors that could influence the outcomes.
- Strategic leadership involves decision-making to establish and proliferate the strategic direction of the organization. After all, a strategic plan is only a vision. It is the organization’s decisions and choices that will execute this vision. Strategic leaders seek balance between operational factors and long-term strategic factors. This involves balancing working direction and autonomy.
- Lastly, strategic leadership is about gaining commitment across the organization to the broader strategic direction by inviting the entire organization to envision the strategic process and acting in ways to execute the strategic plan. After building a broad vision, strategic leaders gain commitment by negotiating collaboratively, understanding who can help achieve their goals and working their networks.