There is no single “right way” to operate a business or poise it for long-term success. Every enterprise is unique. Still, specific leadership development approaches transcend these differences, offering near-universal benefits to businesses of all sizes and types.
Strategic leadership refers to one such approach to business management that can yield numerous long-term benefits when properly implemented and executed. Of course, it’s worth noting that the upsides of the strategic leadership approach are contrasted with some downsides, too.
Let’s look at the pros and cons of strategic leadership. In particular, we’ll focus on how your company can gain the immense benefits of strategic leadership while minimizing the impact of any potentially limiting factors.
What Is Strategic Leadership?
Strategic leadership can be defined as a leadership philosophy that prioritizes the communication and execution of a particular vision via tangible, streamlined actions and processes. In other words, the strategic leader not only generates and clarifies a business’ vision but also adeptly leads its team toward realizing said vision one step at a time.
The best strategic leaders can simultaneously keep the big picture and the key details in mind, which is precisely what allows their business to achieve its short- and long-term goals. The leadership skills required for this brand of leadership include strong communication, a focus on culture, judicious deployment of power, self-control, compassion, consistency, loyalty, and strong motivation.
The Plus Sides of Strategic Leadership
Many potential leadership development benefits come with the strategic leadership approach. First, strategic leaders can unite teams, generate buy-in, and keep everyone on the same page as they work together toward a collective goal. In this way, each strategic leader keeps their team members from losing focus or losing touch with one another, which makes it that much easier to move the entire business forward.
Also, strategic leadership establishes a framework for practical decision-making. When goals are clearly communicated, everyone can better contribute to the collective vision. Strategic leadership also facilitates impartial, long-term thinking because it filters daily decisions through the lens of the broader vision.
Strategic leadership also encourages company-wide accountability and productivity, which sets the stage for overall success. Although some employees may fear the concept of accountability because it sounds a bit scary at first, the strategic leadership approach embraces positive accountability by incorporating active listening, interpersonal feedback, emotional intelligence-building, and leadership training.
Finally, the best strategic leaders cultivate commitment among their teams by acting as daily role models for proficiency and practicality. In other words, they practice what they preach! For all of these reasons, businesses should consider investing in strategic leadership training.
In fact, pursuing the strategic approach to leadership is one of the best ways to ensure a company succeeds at attracting top talent and retaining superstar employees. High achievers are naturally attracted to companies that come with the benefits listed above, and they’re more likely to remain at companies that are supportive and successful.
Imagine your company as a huge rowboat that’s out at sea, spinning out of control. A strategic leadership plan not only helps everyone put their paddles in the water and row together in unison, but it also points the boat in precisely the right direction so you arrive at the desired destination as quickly as possible.
The Setbacks of Strategic Leadership
A strategic leadership approach isn’t always a flawless one, of course. As with all long-term processes and goals, there’s no way to know for certain what the business, industry, or global situation will look like in the next year, five years, decade, and so on. A major challenge like a national economic instability or worldwide health crisis can put a strain on your organization.
Personal and professional stress is a side effect of these situations. In this way, long-term strategic thinking itself can become a significant expense and source of leadership stress, especially if a seemingly solid plan becomes irrelevant in the face of unpredictable changes. This is why strategic leaders must be as flexible as they are visionary.
In a similar vein, strategic leaders can get lost in the bigger picture and start neglecting the business’ most pressing issues and needs, which can cause budding problems to go unresolved and eventually interfere with the very vision in question. This can put pressure on sales performance and other key metrics of success.
Ultimately, a lack of attention to the present moment can halt company growth and even result in long-term harm. Strategic leaders who either take too many risks or are too risk-averse can cause the company to miss out on key opportunities.
On the flip side, even sudden rapid growth can come with a dangerous downside. What if you leverage strategic leadership and suddenly find runaway success? The human beings responsible for handling extremely fast growth can become bogged down and overwhelmed in the process. Your employees need the company to help them cope successfully with this rapid pace of change.
To avoid negative outcomes, a company can prioritize fostering a positive and supportive organizational culture. This includes addressing the foundational elements of the Success ChainTM, like actions, behaviors, attitudes, and habits of thought.
It’s also essential to implement company structures and procedures that nurture strategic leadership, like succession planning, using an entrepreneurial operating system, and choosing technological solutions that support rather than hinder success.
Developing a Winning Strategy for Your Leaders
Strategic leadership is not inherently good or bad, but rather a tool that can raise a business up for years to come or sink the whole ship for lack of seeing the iceberg straight ahead. Every enterprise must determine its own balanced approach to strategic leadership development so it’s able to safely navigate the current moment while aiming for the bigger goal in the distance.
At Leadership Resources, our purpose is to make the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. We offer a wide range of coaching and business consulting services that help you support your valuable employees’ personal and professional success.
Contact us to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most. We strongly encourage any company interested in strategic leadership to explore the Accelerate Leadership Program, which is explained in more detail below.
Strategic Leadership With the Accelerate Leadership Program
The Accelerate Leadership Program (ALP) is one of the best ways to ensure your company takes full advantage of the benefits of strategic leadership while limiting any potential downsides. It helps you get the most out of your leaders at all levels.
Enroll as many emerging leaders as you wish, and they’ll each experience a leadership program that feels personalized and individualized. They’ll develop their leadership skills alongside their peers in a proven leadership curriculum that involves interpersonal skill-building, leadership coaching, and a progressive two-stage program that uses our proprietary Accelerate software to guide each participant to success.
Ready to learn more? Explore ALP now or schedule a consultation with us today. We’ve helped hundreds of companies support their high-potential leaders through skillful strategic leadership. You could be our next of many success stories!Read More
As attached as you might be to your company right now, there will come a time when it is either necessary or practical to make your exit. Of course, this eventuality might be decades away — regardless of when it happens, though, those in leadership roles must consider how the company will change as a result of their absence.
For many, these thoughts provide an ample source of leadership stress. And yet, avoiding them can lead to personal and company-wide problems down the road. If you have no exit strategy in place, you run several risks when you leave: your company might not survive the transition; the organization might radically change its values, mission, goals, etc. (perhaps for the worse); and/or the many efforts you made over the years might be lost.
So, what’s the solution? While there may be no single “secret” to exiting your company while keeping your legacy intact, here are some important ways to leave strategically and graciously.
How to Leave a Company With Good Standing
Identify and Develop Up and Coming Leaders
Your company should spend adequate time and resources developing leadership as a key component of its succession strategy. These efforts will allow current leaders to pass on values, strategies, knowledge, and more to employees who show promise and ambition. And in doing so, these up and coming leaders will be able to fill roles that are left open when someone finally exits. Strategic leadership training can take many forms, but its main focus should be to prepare newer employees to not only take over necessary responsibilities, but to manage them in ways that are commensurate with the company’s underlying values.
Cultivate a Firm Yet Flexible Culture
Every company is different, and therefore so is every company culture. That said, every organizational culture should have these core aspects in common — they should be firm enough to withstand major changes (such as the absence of certain leaders and employees), yet flexible enough to change and improve over time. During your time with the company, then, you should focus on establishing such a culture that, when you leave, the company still represents the core values you helped to imbue while healthily evolving based on societal and internal developments.
Put Financial Incentives in Place (ESOPs)
If you want you and your people to maintain a vested interest in your company, (financially speaking) even after leaving, developing an employee stock ownership plan (ESOP) is one way to do so. It is worth noting that these plans can be quite complex and lead to various issues as well, so it’s important to weigh all of the potential costs and benefits with a certified exit planning advisor (CEPA) before making a final decision. Still, ESOPs can become a key component in your succession planning strategy, encouraging employees to take a larger stake in the company’s outcomes.
Leaving Doesn’t Mean Abandoning Ship Entirely
Depending on when and how you exit the company, you may still be able to play a role in its future success, imparting your wisdom and insights from a distance. For instance, you may be able to work as a part-time contractor or consultant to continue helping with leadership development and guiding the direction of the enterprise without steering the vessel. Your experience can be invaluable in helping employees and leaders deal with difficult decisions, stress, burnout, interpersonal issues, and so much more.
Leaving an organization is never easy, but taking the right steps during and after your time there can help set up the company for future success — success that is partially hinged on the contributions you have made and perhaps continue to make.At Leadership Resources, our purpose is making the impossible possible through people. We aim to do so by helping individuals develop patterns of success that will decrease stress levels and maximize productivity. Contact us here to learn more about what we do and how it can help your business succeed and grow at times like these when you need it most.Read More