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Leadership Strategy: The Critical Ingredient to Sweet Success

Oct 26, 2021

The leadership of an organization plays a crucial role in leading it through the midst of unprecedented shifts. However, plenty of evidence from the media and in the latest research shows that even some of the top and most well-known organizations are failing to adapt to changes, implement their strategies successfully, or plan for an uncertain future. 

Everyone is aware of the importance of a clear business strategy. However, few think about the type of leadership needed to implement strategies that require modifications to either the strategy or the capabilities of an organization. Without proper leadership, even the most effective and innovative strategies will fail, and their potential will never be realized. 

What is a Leadership Strategy? 

To understand the meaning of a strategy for leadership, it is first necessary to know the complete meaning of “Leadership”. The Center for Creative Leadership has been studying leadership and leaders for over 40 years and recently came to the   following conclusion: leadership begins with those who hold senior positions; however, it doesn't stop there. 

The capacity of an organization's ability to meet its objectives is not based entirely on the will of one great leader or the efficiency of an organization's chain of command. These aspects are crucial. However, they do not alone aid in understanding why specific organizations succeed where others don't. We need to understand the culture of leadership, defined by the actions of informal and formal leaders who work together to impact the success of an organization.  

It's not just the amount or the quality of leaders who determine the success of an organization. Still, both formal and informal leaders can work together to pursue the organizational goals that ultimately make the difference. 

Therefore, when we talk about leadership in this context, we are referring to both the leaders themselves and their relationships to which we are referring. Many times, the notion that leadership is more important than the leader itself has been described as interdependent, limitless and connected leadership. 

So, when we discuss the role of leadership in an organization in the first instance, we must consider: 

The number of leaders according to actual and anticipated formal leadership positions is depicted on an organizational chart (number, level and job function, location, business unit, reporting relationships, etc.) 

The traits that are desired in the selection process (demographics and backgrounds, diversity, and experience levels) 

The competencies and behaviors that are required for the implementation of the business strategy and build the desired culture (skills, competencies and know-how foundation for each process) 

The leadership abilities of leaders working together as a team and across boundaries to execute strategies, resolve issues and respond to challenges, adjust to changes and encourage innovation. 

The desired culture of leadership that includes the leadership methods are in place, like collaboration across boundaries, the engagement of employees, taking accountability for the outcomes, providing the opportunity for other leaders to take on leadership, training others as leaders, gaining the ability to grow, etc. 

Much of the research on leadership bench strength has been centered on the first two ways to describe the organization's leadership. By omitting the connected leadership and the leadership culture, we've missed the factors that make administration a reality within organizations and the elements that decide whether plans and strategies are implemented.  

A well-designed leadership strategy incorporates all these aspects into consideration. Simply filling all of the posts on the leadership chart will not produce the leadership needed to implement strategies, adjust to change, promote innovations or any other essential agendas for the organization. It's not just about having the right amount of bodies; it's what they are doing and how they connect that's important. 

How to develop a leadership strategy? 

The leadership strategy must be influenced by the business strategy and should include: 

I. Quantity Leaders: How many will be required in the coming 5-10 years in consideration of the growth requirements and the projected turnover 

  • When 

  • Where 

  • At what level 

II. Qualities: The traits that individual leaders and all leaders, in general, must possess when they are selected or retained. Including: 

  • Demographics.  

    a. Age b. gender c. Race. d. Culture of Origin, e. Education f. Experience 

  • Internal promotions as opposed to external hiring 

  • Diversity, targeted diversity 

    a. Level 

    b. Location 

III. Skills/Behaviors: The exact skills, behavior, knowledge and abilities that leaders require based on the function, position, or unit for implementing the business strategy. 

  • The generic behavioral competencies that can be applied to all leaders within the company. 

  • Specific behavioral competencies based on the level of function 

  • General skills and understanding required by all the leaders within the company 

  • Knowledge or skills needed for the job or level 

  • The skills, knowledge or capabilities concerning the level of work 

  • Language skills 

IV. Collective Capabilities: The capacities required by leaders when they work together, for example: 

  • Giving direction by demonstrating alignment and creating engagement as a group leadership team

  • Finding solutions or improvements effectively and efficiently, which require collaboration across external or internal boundaries 

  • Participating employees in decision-making and getting their support for implementing the planned cross-functional initiatives 

  • Co-creating strategies and implementing the strategies in a coordinated fashion 

  • Successful innovation requires collaboration across functional lines 

  • Adjusting to change in a coordinated and cohesive way 

  • Working together to expand the business into new markets 

  • Ensuring compliance/transparency by requiring a consistent set of values, beliefs and actions across the organization 

  • Being flexible to customer demands in ways that require collaboration across units 

  • Develop talent for the entire enterprise and not for specific units. 

V. Culture of Leadership: One of the primary characteristics of the culture created by leaders through the manner they lead. 

  • Grad of independence, dependence or interdependence between leaders 

  • Values that are emphasized by the collective actions and leadership actions 

  • The style of leadership displayed in the vast majority of leadership styles (control-oriented or laissez-faire, active) 

  • The practices of leadership that are essential and are shared throughout the company (engaging employees, taking responsibility, accepting opportunities to improve by focusing on customer service and so on.) 

The Cost To Implement Your Company's Leadership Strategy 

Although a specific formula is not available to translate the leadership plan into the budget and the time it takes to meet each goal, The leadership plan can provide a solid justification for such expenditures due to its apparent connection to its strategy. 

It is generally an ongoing process involving the team formed for that reason that is regularly reported to an executive group or a steering committee responsible for oversight. Similar to reviewing talent, the process of developing the leadership strategy can lead to valuable discussions that have never occurred prior. The conversations themselves could serve as interventions that start changing beliefs and attitudes about executive talent issues within the business. Developing a strategy involves a mixture of art and logic, which requires both left-brain and correct brain thinking. While determining the number of leaders needed is typically simply an expansion of growth goals employing workforce planning techniques, creating the desired leadership culture is more complex. 

Conclusion 

A strategy for leadership supports the efficient execution of an organization's business plan. Without the proper management, the organizational strategy will be just documented on the corporate cloud. Finding the right leaders to execute business strategies requires an arduous and meticulous plan and, often, significant investments. 

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