Growing Today's Strategic Leaders

Growing Today's Strategic LeadersIn an ever-changing business environment, leaders need to be nimble, scanning the horizon for opportunities, adjusting their strategy, and involving employees in the process.

How does your organization develop and create a strategy to make the business successful? Traditionally, the top of the pyramid created the strategy, and everyone fell in line. But in today’s fast-paced business environment, leaders need to build strategies that respond to external changes. They need to collect data from every source possible, including employees, who often have key information about customers, the market, and internal systems. And they need to create strategies that make sense, are simple to communicate and make it easy for employees to develop tactics to support the strategy.

As leadership styles continue to evolve in a changing workplace, strategic leadership is shedding its top-down strategy in favor of teamwork and cooperation. In order to adapt, business leaders need to refocus their strategies to incorporate the perspectives and ambitions of the employees that will be part of the plan, according to the book “Becoming a Strategic Leader: Your Role in Your Organization’s Enduring Success,” published in part in Training magazine.

“Too often, leaders assume that once they have the direction figured out, everyone should just align with it,” authors Richard Hughes, Katherine Colarelli Beatty and David Dinwoodie write. “While they may not say it exactly, the fact that human emotions, needs, beliefs, and desires are part of the change equation is often frustrating for those in leadership roles.”

Chief learning officers and team leaders should work together to incorporate employees and company culture into the leadership strategy. This helps avoid the disruptions and frustrations that employees can cause to a single-vision plan, Hughes, Beatty and Dinwoodie explain.

Beyond developing a more holistic leadership strategy for business leaders, there are two other important skills that can create successful, effective leadership:

1. Learn to Anticipate

Ever-changing business climates make trend anticipation one of the most critical skills for a strategic leadership plan today. In the article, “Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills” by Paul J.H. Schoemaker, Steve Krupp, and Samantha Howland in the Harvard Business Review, the authors note several examples in which companies like Coors or Lego failed to see the long-term trends of lower calorie beer and electronic toys in their respective industries.

To be successful, a business must anticipate the changes that might impact its strategy when opportunities or obstacles arise. Part of developing leadership skills should include identifying and capitalizing on signals from both “inside and outside the organization,” according to Schoemaker, Krupp and Howland.

2. Focus on the Day-to-Day Questions

A modern strategic leader can’t make every decision him- or herself. In a changing market, the organization’s employees are on the front line, and need to respond in the moment. This underscores the importance of seeking regular and frequent input from your staff and designing your strategy to include the decisions your employees will make each day, reports Forbes. Employees’ actions determine the implementation of the strategy, so if the plan isn’t actionable, they won’t be able to comply with the strategy and may interfere with goals.

As Time magazine explains, the best way to be a successful strategic leader is to execute your vision. If you or your employees cannot understand or embrace your vision, your strategy needs more clarity or an adjustment. Often, this requires simplicity. “The most powerful strategies are often the simplest, because the simplest strategies are the ones most likely to be flawlessly executed,” CEO of The IT Transformation Institute Charles Araujo told Time.

Executive leadership training can assist a business in developing an effective strategic leader with the consideration, foresight and realism needed in the modern workplace. How will you grow your strategic leaders? For proven executive leadership training information from Merit, contact Jim Wynne at or visit our website.