By choosing to be a strategic leader, you are taking up a great challenge!
The more authority or influence one has, the greater is your opportunity to lead strategically. Power and authority are not enough in themselves. With a smaller scope of responsibility, you can still lead strategically over the people and resources under your influence. What differentiates strategic leaders from other leaders or managers? They rely on their deeply rooted foundation of business ethics and values to position their organization where it provides the optimal benefit for their customers and clients.
Strategic leaders move their company or team to a better position in the marketplace
A strategic leader knows where the company is going. That destination must be a compelling vision and worth the effort for all members. A strategic leader not only knows the direction but must continually remind everyone else where they are going. Staying focused on the vision, and keeping people on track, despite roadblocks and distractions takes perseverance and focus on the part of a leader. Then effective leaders utilize their experience to mobilize the different functional teams and tap available resources to successfully arrive to that new destination. These aspects of the Strategic Leaders role are similarly defined in the book The Work of Leaders by Julie Straw, Mark Schullard, Susie Kukkonen and Barry Davis.
Deeply Rooted Core Values serve the strategic leader well
Strong Advice is committed to equipping leaders to be successful! While training is important to learn new skills, the foundation of a leader’s effectiveness is personal values that shape decision-making. These values include personal ethics, integrity, experiences and cultural upbringing. Those choices, from the small to great, are often decided intuitively and greatly alter the performance of the organization being led.
Our values are what we believe to the core of our being. They are not something copied from a book or based on what we think would sound good! Values are the highest, most significant priorities that over-ride other alternatives. Whether they be cultural, personality-based, or lessons learned from experience, they are deeply ingrained and difficult to change in an individual. That is often why decisions are made quickly because an underlying value is at play!
Many values are neither right nor wrong. However there are values, such as business ethics and integrity in human relations that are essential to build trust in the organization. Other values, such as priorities on personal development or innovations will shape a unique character for the leader or the company being led.
Values have both direct and indirect effects on an executive’s choices and actions. The most interesting aspect of the influence of values on an individual executive’s choices and actions is that it has a fine way of hiding itself from being discovered. Edward T. Hall rightly said “Culture like any other deeply ingrained values set, hides much more than it reveals, and strangely enough what it hides, it hides most effectively from its own participants.” This is one reason it is difficult for people to change their core values. They are not aware of them!
How Strategic Leader’s Values affect organizational performance
The strategic leader’s set of values draws from two very powerful and inter-connected principles. Each has a pivotal effect on an organization’s performance.
The first principle is that an organization can only be as progressive as its leadership’s limitations. Whether using an example of a sport’s team and their coach or an executive in a suit, the team being led is highly dependent upon its leadership ability to be successful. This principle is closely aligned with our core belief that leadership transforms. The question is, will the leader transform positively or negatively? The success or failure of the organization draws mainly from the leader’s values, experiences and the choices and decisions he/she makes.
One of the reasons the first principle is true is because of the second principle! A company is only as good as the least effective member. Only when all the members thrive and contribute effectively to its processes can that company achieve excellence. This is related to the first principle because it is the leader that strategically selects and empowers individuals and groups. These members express their values verbally by giving input and suggestions to improve a process and by how they perform their roles. This, in turn, builds the organization’s culture within a healthy environment that leads the company to an optimal place.
The ability to successfully develop a company’s own unique way requires the skillful hand of a strategic leader. This is particularly true in today’s highly diversified workplace. It rarely happens by accident. Leaders start with their personal values, past experience and intuition. When leaders live these values and communicates their importance, these values are expressed and modified by empowered team members as they perform their roles. Each team develops their own unique way of doing business successfully. The best organizations do not imitate other companies. They may implement best practices from others but adapt it to their own unique way based on their values.
Making the most of your values as a leader
If you decide to take the challenge to be a strategic leader, make the most of your values. How do you do this? Some action steps are necessary.
The first and the most important action is to become aware of your own values and how they influence your leadership decisions. This takes time for reflection. Whenever you make a decision, quickly analyze what values were in play. What were the “hidden values” behind your decision? Knowing yourself is always the first best step!
Secondly, be humble and invite others on your team with different views to provide input when making decisions and strategic plans. Because we are blind to how our values influence our decisions, learning to seek other people’s opinions is one of best ways of avoiding your own leadership pit falls. To avoid “being lonely at the top” include others in strategic planning and keep communication channels open to hear from anyone in the organization
Strong Advice recommends a mentor or leadership coach to help you reflect on your decisions. Look for a seasoned leader that you trust and ask him or her to help you review your leadership practices.
Great Leaders are great learners! Attend leadership workshops and forums. Talk with other leaders outside your organization that can provide unbiased perspectives. Take leadership assessment profiles and learn your strengths and development opportunities.
Contact Us for more information. We invite you to bookmark and revisit this page and add your comments below. This is the second in the series of articles on strategic leadership. We invite you to read our introductory articles on strategic leadership Here.
Next article- Styles of Strategic Leadership
By Mike Strong Founder of Strong Advice