Leadership among the people has been of great importance for a long time. But at present, handling and guiding the people of the 21st century is a matter of a great deal. So every independent person of this generation needs a guiding or helping hand over his head for walking down the right track. So here comes the need for strategic leadership.
In the growing world of economic importance and business-minded people, there is a necessity for strategic direction in every small and big company or industry. A leader has got great significance in a little as well as a big company. So to become a good leader, you must know the strategies of leadership. In this article, you will get to know every little detail of strategic leadership.
- What is Strategic Leadership?
- Features of Strategic Leadership
- Principles of Strategic Leadership
- Qualities of a Strategic Leader
- Skills of Strategic Leadership
- Pros of a Strategic Leader
- Cons of a Strategic Leader
- Important Characteristics
- Wrap Up!
What is Strategic Leadership?
The world is changing very fast with the speed of light, and with this changing scenario, one has to develop some life-maintaining values which would make the bad times pass easily and good times cherished by heart. This all would be done by creating a plan or a strategy that demands a set of skills. These sets of expertise are the key pillars of leadership.
The skills are best tested in the corporate world, where employees or executives are vulnerable to use their leadership skills at once. It is said the most unpredictable the environment, the greater the opportunity to showcase your leadership qualities. And this can be achieved by putting all the critical skills of leadership at one time in a particular event.
Features of Strategic Leadership
- The ability to anticipate
- Challenge the diverse views.
- Interpret the plausible repercussions.
- Decide the most appropriate thing
- Align others for the purpose.
- And learn from outcomes.
Every skill is unique in its terms and conditions, perhaps when all abilities are concocted in the right amount and proportion; a grand strategy of leadership is yielded.
Principles of Strategic Leadership
Previously, leaders used to be dominating, short-tempered, and even headstrong. That is an excellent reason behind the downfall of such leaders. But with the changing world, the mentality of the people, as well as the leaders, has changed.
There is an urge among the employees to learn and seek whatever good they can from the leaders. The leaders also have an aim to make the employees as efficient as possible. When both the employees and the leader are at good terms of understanding, there is no question of the downfall of the leader. Several points cover the principles of strategic leadership. The scores are as follows:
- The leader of a company having several employees should be efficient enough to teach them the correct ways of attaining goals. Every person in a group is right in one field or the other. The leader has to recognize that one good point of his employees to make the working area perfect and up to the mark of the authentication leader. Therefore the strategic leader always has to choose the best strategic way of guiding the employees. The leader must distribute responsibilities among his group of employees to check the efficiency.
- Unlike the leaders of previous days, the present-day strategic leaders are open-minded and friendly. He does not keep any secret from his crew at any point in time unless it is necessary for the group. One of the key strategies of a strategic leader is to maintain absolute transparency to the crew or employees. The employees should know all were about the company, every decision was taken and all the new updates. The strategic leader stops building walls between the employees.
- As you know, one person might be excellent in the field but might not be that good in the other. Similarly, there cannot be only one way to check the efficiency of the employees or test their limits. The leader gives several opportunities for the employees to prove themselves. If an employee fails to pass a check limit test of the strategic leader, the leader tests him in another way to discover his efficiency.
- A legend did not become a legend in one day. He had several drawbacks and failures on the way to success. An average human being has to overcome several difficulties before attaining his or her goal. The strategic leader makes it clear to the employees that at first, it is alright to fail. But too many failures might lead to the disqualification of the employee from the crew. Failures are ethical as it is the first stepping stone towards success.
- A strategic leader is wise enough to let the employees take suggestions from other experts in various fields for good working experience. This free and friendly atmosphere makes the employees spurt out their talents in the working base. A strategic leader is never selfish or harsh on the employees except when it is necessary.
- The strategic leaders give the employee vast opportunities in working base for gaining different experiences related to working at different points of time. The strategic leaders do not believe in learning methods by heart; instead, they prefer making the employees experts based on real-life working experience. A strategic leader always prefers strategy over any other thing.
- If the employees succeed in any particular working field properly, the strategic leader immediately puts him under some work in the company. This makes them more efficient, and gains experience not just from the training of the strategic leader but also other kinds of stuff and higher authorities in the office. The strategic leader hires the employees for betterment.
- The strategic leader always inspires the employees to work with their heart and soul for success. Only a part of an effort from the employee is not enough for proper training. The employee might get dismissed immediately in those circumstances. To avoid getting rejected, the employee has to work with all the efforts he or she can.
- The strategic leader tells the employees not only to learn but also to apply the learning in actual life to test himself. Self-testing is the best way to succeed. It makes one realize its efficiency and gives him or her a reminder of the extent to which he or she has yet to push the potentials further.
- The leader is genuine with the employers so that they do not feel pushed back at any point in time. The leader makes the employees understand the advantages of strategic leadership so that they do not take a step back against the leader out of any frustration.
Qualities of a Strategic Leader
You have read enough about the principles and importance of the actions of a strategic leader from the above points. The high points are the golden tips for a strategic leader in handling and guiding the employees in the best way possible.
But the principles do not help alone for a strategic leader to follow his or her strategies. Besides laws, there are a few qualities a person should have to become an excellent qualified strategic leader. Here is the list of qualities and qualifications a strategic leader should have:
- The critical point and the first point which a person should have to become a strategic leader is open-mindedness. Without being open-minded, you cannot become a strategic leader. The first point which should be in the strategy list of a leader is this nature. The strategic leader must be open-minded with each one of his employees to gain that respect and love. The employee should not just respect or fear the leader but should also think of him as a friend. The familiar atmosphere enables the employees to work freely without any fear and pressure.
- The second most important thing a strategic leader should have is courage. Without courage and bravery, a person can never be the idol in the eyes of the employees. Courage is essential as all the employees and students o0f the leader looks forward to the strategic leader as an inspiration. The leader must know how to take risks on his own before risking his employees.
- Besides the friendly atmosphere in the workplace, the strategic leader should even be aware of the prevailing discipline of the place. Each of the employees should have a disciplined life to avoid any kind of mishap. If the employees treat the leader as an exact friend, it becomes impossible for him to handle the crew anymore. The team takes the strategic leader for granted and refuses to accept his decisions. To avoid such circumstances and guide the employees on the right path, the leader must hold the discipline of the place.
- The strategic leader must have the power to resist every type of storm against the employees. When every other person falls on the ground asking for help, being weak, the strategic leader must stand alone to give them a hand to all. There should be endurance in the strategic leader to stand against any type of danger, even in the worst days.
- Unlike the leaders from the past where leaders used to rule and force the employees to work under him, the strategic leaders must stand in front of the employees as an inspiration. He should not only push the employees to work hard until they reach their goal but also the leader himself has to set an example of himself in front of the employees to teach them and to be an inspiration to them for pushing their limits and increasing their potential power.
- The strategic leader must not be rude or harsh to the employees, but he should set their goals in the most understandable way possible. To make the employees work hard, the leader has to establish a massive target for the employees to attain shedding some sweat drops. These hard works of the employees bear fruit of success someday.
- The strategic leader must not be partial at any point in time. He should encourage all the employees equally, not leaving any gap between them. If the employee with better qualifications finds the strategic leader appreciating him, especially, the other weak employees who might have developed much better skills sooner or later get discouraged. This action of the strategic leader might even flatter the good one and eventually lead them to their downfall.
- The strategic leader’s quality list must have the point of being insightful. The strategic leader should take care of each one of the employees. This helps him keep an account of each of the employees’ qualifications, the positive side, negative side, and weaknesses.
- If the strategic leader finds any kind of weakness among the employees, the leader gives him or her some tasks based on those weaknesses. This step of the strategic leaders helps the employees to overcome their shortcomings and become excellent in their work field. These imperative coaches or training make the employees get over their fear at ease.
- The strategic leader should be friendly enough with the employees to build collaboration among all. Grudge and envy among each other can lead to the downfall of the project. The strategic leader makes sure that there is a collaboration between two employees from the same field to avoid destruction.
- The perspective or point of view of the strategic leader towards the employees and to the world is essential. The way the strategic leader makes the employees think, the better idea they try to believe.
The above points were the qualities that a strategic leader should have to be an excellent idol to the employees. Keeping the high points in mind, you have to move on to the next locations, the pros, and cons of a strategic leader.
So, in a nutshell, strategic leadership is defined as a kind of potential that can influence others to unite for a single purpose and to result in a change in the organization with the help of crucial skills.
Let’s have a look at each essential skills one by one, defining the limits and execution of these:
Skills of Strategic Leadership
Anticipation about the incoming adversity is the main challenge of all organizations. Most organizations people fail to judge the prevailing situations in the periphery of it and end up getting a situation that cannot be solved quickly. In contrast with such people, strategic people 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 employee should do the following actions which can surely fuel up their ability and ultimately can help the organization to grow steadily:
- Interact with your suppliers, customers, marketers and other people at the organization to build up a better understanding of situations at your firm.
- Keep an eye on your competitors through conducting market research, simulations which would give you better perspectives on the views of your competitors.
- 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 shortcomings of the organization.
Strategic people have a slightly different mindset when it comes to an understanding of the views of other people. They always challenge their assumptions and others by asking relevant functions.
Strategic people always encourage divergent points of view which would give a diverse array of thoughts on one topic. After, careful assessment of the problems through different perspectives, they take a concrete decision.
In doing 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 leading to this.
- Always make a list of long-standing assumptions of your business or firm which can help to have a better understanding of the current situations and challenges laid down.
- Arrange ‘safe zone’ meetings which encourage open participation and all positive and negative expressions.
- Include some naysayers to develop challenging conditions early in the discussion.
The best kinds of leaders have the most productive inputs about the situations and conflicts. They produce the most different interpretations of a situation by scanning the scenarios with their 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.
The following should be done to boost up your ability to interpret:
- During the analysis of ambiguous data, welcome other stakeholders to express their diverse thoughts in it.
- List the three plausible agreements of the scenario which can be considered.
- Focus on the zoomed picture of your imagination like what you are expecting to be.
- Observation should be done very keenly with a sufficient amount of quantitative data.
- Any kind of information about the firm should not be missed while interpreting results.
In very uncertain and un-planned times, many people have to make some tough calls or make decisions that are based on incomplete information. They don’t wait for any kind of second or third view about the situation. They unanimously jump to conclusions and make decisions.
On the other hand, strategic leaders are not like that; they work on every parameter, and every view they insist on having perfect information about the predicament and maturely take the assertive decision. They minutely observe the various pros and cons of the situation and also work on the repercussions of it to arrive at the right choice. Strategic leaders must have the courage of their convictions which are set up by the robust decision process.
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 have a better understanding of the components of full-fledged decisions.
- The decisions should be taken by accounting the long term goals and short term goals appropriately.
- Include those people who can help you to achieve the conclusion of a decision, and can influence other people also.
The strategic leaders should be very efficient in finding common ground for the shared interests of their stakeholders. This ability demands an active outreach by the leaders. The success rate depends on proactive communication, trust-building, and active engagement.
To improve this align ability, one should follow:
- Communicate with your stakeholders and employees about the company’s scenario and other conditions.
- Keep a list of all vital elements of the internal and external stakeholders, map their positions, and pinpoint the various alignments of the situations.
- Use the most structured and maintained conversations to avoid any kind of misunderstanding.
- The vigilant watch should be made to monitor your stakeholders closely.
- Recognize colleagues who encourage team alignment and reward them for that.
The leader who strategically plans everything is referred to as the core and essential point of learning. Strategic leaders promote a learning environment around them and yield results from both successful and unsuccessful stories. They always keep on learning whether it is wrong or good. They study failures of theirs and their teams and after the elaborate observation; they tend to make changes in that field.
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 the outcome of results.
- Conduct the annual learning drives where people tend to learn new skills and upgrade the ones they possess.
- Create an environment in the office, where mistakes are taken as the learning chapters by the employees.
Becoming an excellent strategic leader is not that easy task. To become one, the person should be able to find weaknesses in the above skills and improve them. Research shows that the strength in one ability will not compensate for the deficiency in other skills. So, it is crucial to concoct every skill appropriately to become a 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.
Pros of a Strategic Leader
- Strategic leaders help the employees to set themselves on the right path of life.
- The moment the strategic leader sets a goal for the employees, that moment, the effort quality and hard work of the employee begins.
- The strategic leader makes all the employees efficient enough to take the correct step and make the right decision at the right time. These all are the primary training effects on the employees due to the strategic leader.
- The strategic leader makes the employees adjust themselves in every situation with whoever they are with. This activity of the strategic leader helps the employees stay steady and stable in a work field where they have to work with people from different categories.
- Proper training from the strategic leaders helps one measure his or her potential and limit in the work field.
Cons of a Strategic Leader
- Strategic leadership coaching can be pretty expensive at times.
- The training from strategic leadership might not entertain some of the qualifications within you, which could have flourished in the absence of the organization. In simple words, the strategic direction might not be so flexible at times.
- After the training from a strategic leader, the results might not be that satisfying for you as it is with others. The results might not amuse you or benefit you the way it does to others.
According to recent research, it is evident that strategic leadership has the following features which make them different from others:
1. Strong communication
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 fellows.
Communication also leads to soft skills which include, having an open-door policy, holding regular meetings and interaction sessions, etc. The communicator should able to express their thoughts effectively and assertively.
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, listening skills are also required. It is essential to listen to your team member’s views. “Speaking and hearing are the two phases of coins which are synchronized together to achieve good results.
A leader who is a good listener gains an extra opportunity to learn things at a faster rate and further imply them to solve problems. Improve product and service, and builds an influential company culture.
3. Passion and commitment
Your excitement for the project is very contagious when it is surpassed to other members of the team .when the other team members imbibe your kind of enthusiasm and dedication, they also align in the row to have the same amount of passion towards the project.
The passion is the driving force to keep the excitement unhindered during the projects or meetings. Commitment is one such realm that is 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”. It holds right in every sphere of life. The strategic leader includes positivity in their personality so that other team members or colleagues imbibe it from them. A positive thinker can be an excellent asset to the firm.
Strategic leaders promote a healthy and positive environment around them, which clearly defines their energy and actions.
Being a good strategic leader, one needs to be adept at collaborations. The collaborations promote transparency in the team. Heading collaboration is also a very critical task.
The strategic leader should able to culminate various thoughts in one stream and then taking action accordingly.
With the honesty characteristic, a strategic leader should be cautious 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.
To conclude this article, the strategic leaders are strong communicators, good listeners, innovators, diplomats, collaborative beings who drive an organization in a positive direction.
This means strategic leadership is one such trait that is required by every professional to meet up their company’s or firms’ requirements to gain peak success.
Did we miss any of the key skills of strategic leadership that you consider important?
How impactful do you find strategic leadership for effective business management? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below.
Pinky is an MBA in Marketing from the University of Mumbai. She loves helping people out in learning Marketing and sharing latest ideas and tactics for growing businesses.