Putting the pieces together for superior performance 

Do you like to solve puzzles? Most people enjoy solving puzzles. Often times it can seem easy when you see the entire picture on the box. The challenging part, however, comes when we make efforts to fit all the pieces together.  

So it is with every business when it comes to actualizing a strategy. Leaders after crafting a strategic plan will aim to gradually bring all the pieces of the strategy together. In business terms, this is often referred to as the translation of strategic intent into strategic action. It is a fact; many leaders and executives find this process of translating strategic intent into strategic action puzzling and complex. 

By asking what sets businesses that get results apart from those that don’t, we identified some essential elements that are closely interlinked. First, strategic planning is fundamental to turning the intent into realisation. The next necessary step is Implementation of such strategy. Some key questions executives think about during this time are; What resources are needed? How will we organize and mobilize to achieve the desired results? What are some of the obstacles or resistance to implementing the strategy and how do we overcome them? It is with reasonable sense to say, without a plan, the intended results will not be achieved. 

The second essential element is strategic leadership at every level of the organization. Senior executives in high-performing businesses understand the role of a strategic leader goes beyond crafting business strategy and planning. Being able to successfully formulate and implement a business strategy requires having a leadership development plan that empowers other employees at all levels of the organization to be leaders. The day-to-day function of a leader is what separates the good leaders from the exceptional leaders.  

Being able to lead the organization daily while maintaining a strategic view of things is what a leader is called to do. That is not easy and requires learning and development. Yet it is upon this daily effectiveness that the success or failure of an organization is determined and the desired picture becomes clearer. 

Leading strategically translates business sense to personal sense 

In our research and over a decade experience in strategy, we came to realize, employees are only personally motivated to mobilize a strategy when they have a personal connection to the strategy. The work of the leader is to help employees make meaning of organizational strategy personally. It is true, a business strategy is used to give direction to an organization, while strategic leadership is what gives human meaning to any strategic intent. The strategic leader serves as the human enabler that releases the organization to maximize its full performance potential. According to Pasmore – a leadership researcher, leadership brings clarity to business strategy. It seeks to look at the organization’s competences and capabilities to execute a business strategy.  

In addition to producing effective leaders through a development plan, an organization needs to know the number and type of leaders it needs, where such leaders are needed, as well as the skills set and behavioral requirements for superior performance. This is one of the highest priorities of executives. 

Unfortunately, to the detriment of many organizations, many senior executives do not see leadership development as a significant part of their jobs. They solely focus on the processes in the workplace rather than on the people who lead those processes. The other spectrum of leading emphasizes just the opposite. In this, leaders tend to prioritize leadership development so extensively that it often neglects to connect this development to the organization’s business strategy. The result of this neglect often is a workforce that has a fuzzy picture of the desired outcome. 

Thus, even though the organizations strategic plan is great, the implementation fails to get results because of leadership shortfalls. It is therefore of utmost importance that organizations invest in and develop leadership strategies relevant to their business strategy and processes. 

The next article will seek to discuss some practical elements that are needed for creating an effective leadership development strategy. While our final article on this series will aim at outlining some of the top challenges executives face as they seek to turn “strategic intents to desired results”.

By Fountain Abani
Lead Trainer – Executive & Corporate at Strong Advice 

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