Strategic Leadership – Definition and Qualities of a Strategic Leader
“Strategic leadership is the ability to communicate a strategic vision and motivate your team to achieve that vision”. It can also be referred to as the potential to control team members while enforcing change to the organization.
Strategic leaders must develop the organization structure, assign roles/ resources, and demonstrate a strategic vision. As a strategic leader, you need to find solutions to even the most challenging problems that may negatively influence the organization.
Meanwhile, there are two primary objectives of strategic leadership – strategic productivity and to create of an atmosphere in which employees can predict the organization’s requirements regarding their roles.
Even more, strategic leaders motivate the team members to embrace their ideas. Strategic leaders will often utilize incentive systems to encourage employees to achieve the organization’s goals.
Furthermore, strategic leadership is all about innovation, objectivity, ideas, and working towards helping each other realize their aims and goals. That said, there’s more to strategic leadership than goals and vision, as discussed later in this article. So without any further ado, let’s get started:
Qualities of a Strategic Leader
1. Passion and Commitment
This is probably quality number one of a strategic leader. An organization led by enthusiasm will often entice the employees to increase their dedication. And yes, your passion needs to be accompanied by a commitment to getting the job done.
But how do you demonstrate your passion and commitment? Simple! Lead by example, and the team will follow as per your expectations. You anticipate productivity from your employees, so get your head down to work. Meanwhile, encourage your team members to work hard at each level to demonstrate your commitment to the organization.
2. Strong Communication
Good communication skills are a plus to strategic leadership. Yes, you may have a coherent idea of whatever you’re planning to achieve, but if you cannot communicate it to your team, it will be nearly impossible to execute the plan.
As a strategic leader, you need to develop the ability to convey your intentions to the team while understanding that every idea counts. Most importantly, your employees should be enlightened about your strategic aims and goals for its success.
3. Good Listening Skills
In as much as you’re the manager, you still need to embrace listening skills. As they say, good listeners are effective communicators. Learn to listen to what your team has to say to meet the company’s goals. Speaking and listening are two different skills, and a strategic leader should perform perfectly well in both.
In addition to letting ideas out, employees need to know their affairs are being addressed. This way, you’ll not only increase their morale but also the organization’s overall productivity. A leader who embraces the art of listening will often find problem-solving a no brainer.
A collaborative approach will go a long way to enhance your company’s transparency. If your intentions are genuine, your team won’t hesitate to collaborate with you. Collaboration often contributes to trust, and your employees are more likely to support your idea. If you don’t want to involve people in your strategic plan, the chances are that your project will fail. Because honestly, no one wants to be part of success; their contributions never count.
You can do this by developing small projects and assigning roles to the rest of the team. Instead of being the leader, you now play the role of the associate. Doing so will prove that you value your employees’ ideas and suggestions.
Honestly will always take the lead in any strategy. If you are transparent about your reasons, successes, failures, and objectives will enhance the respect existing between you and your team members. Often, employees will feel valued when they are involved in every plan, improving your organization’s trust.
Getting honest about the organization can be daunting because you have to communicate both positive and negative sides. Even worse, you’ll have to communicate about the financial situation of your company. Always get honest about your plans, progress, and results because that’s all it takes to be a strategic leader.
Positivity makes even the most complex tasks come to successful completion. A positive team is more productive than a team that is not. Therefore, you need to keep your employees’ faith and be optimistic that they will always deliver. Give your team the freedom they deserve; don’t believe that they will not be as productive when you give them space.
While most leaders are only concerned about their achievements, you need to make sure that you are looking at all angles of the organization as a manager. Check to see what your organization team has also achieved under you and see how you can improve what they have done. Don’t be the leader who only wants to put a lot of emphasis on the negative things while ignoring the positives.
As a leader, you must be honest and transparent, but you will need to supplement that skill with diplomacy. You need to be a leader who can solve disputes without leaving either party feeling dissatisfied with the outcome of the dispute solving mechanism. Create better channels of solving conflicts within your company, such that employees or team members will not hesitate to approach you whenever there is a problem.
In most cases, even as you plan and execute your duties as the manager, you will most likely encounter disagreements within your team. You must know how best you can handle these disagreements and instead rally your team behind you to know and understand why you are doing this and that. It is natural for your team to disagree with some of the plans and strategies, but explaining why you are doing something will help them change their minds and root for you.
Even as you work in an organization, you need to keep the company moving forward through innovation. Working for many years is a plus and should help you be innovative enough because you know some of the things that need improvement. Watch out for the trends and use your leadership intelligence and skills to brainstorm innovative ideas that would ensure that your company is moving forward and not stuck at one point.
In as much as your company might have moved miles away since you took over as the manager, you don’t need to get comfortable and assume that’s the limit. You need to keep working and to keep thinking of better ideas that will push the company forward. If you find yourself lacking ideas, you can read innovative books or follow some industry trending news to find out other ways to take your company to go forward.
Even though you might not be the only innovative mind in the organization, you still need to keep pushing for new agendas that mean well for the company. Chair meeting where individuals can suggest ways of improving the company, discuss them, and see what innovations can help push the organization forward. Allowing your team members to contribute their ideas can help find innovations that your company can benefit from.
Succeeding in a company or an organization as a leader does not just require career skills or academic skills – humility is also one of the best qualities a leader should possess. When you are humble, you will readily accept your mistakes and go back to the drawing board to see where you went wrong. You will be able to rectify your mistakes before they can be too difficult to fix.
Demonstrate your humility not only with the employees and your team but also with the processes and plans. In other words, you need to recognize that you can’t know everything and that at some point, you will need some help. Leaving your ego behind will make you human and approachable because even the most brilliant humans make mistakes.
Some people misunderstand the word ‘empathetic’ taking it for being a therapist or something of the sort. However, being empathetic in leadership means you can relate and understand your team’s pain points, know what worries them the most, and brainstorm ideas of how you can help them get over their problems. The best way to do this is to put yourself in their shoes and feel their problems, which will, in turn, help you solve their problems better.
Empathy can also be a practical, useful tool a manager or a leader can use in making sure that the organization or a company runs smoothly. When you understand your employees’ pain points, you can solve them appropriately and promptly. This will also help you set realistic and achievable goals, ensuring that you are not straining your employees so much.
For instance, being an empathetic leader will help you understand that the marketing team or department may need better CRM to achieve their marketing goals. Likewise, as an empathetic leader, you will know that your team may need a specific amount of time so that they can adequately test the UX. In other words, it all boils down to one thing – empathy, the state of understanding other people by putting yourself in their shoes.
Are You a Strategic Leader?
As we conclude, ask yourself whether you are a strategic leader, one who can communicate clearly and is passionate about other people. Ask yourself whether you are humble, empathetic, positive, collaborative, an active listener, honest, innovative, etc., because these are the qualities that are gouging to help you drive your team forward.
Also, you need to understand that strategic leadership is quite different from one person to another. How you prove your leadership skills will depend on the organizational cultures and your skills as a leader. For example, effective communication will be very different for a leader who works on-site versus a leader who works remotely. In other words, you need to get your leadership style straight and fit within your organizational working environment.
Part of being a manager is to ensure that things and activities are done effectively and efficiently. And to ensure that this is done, you must improve the internal reporting process. When the internal reporting process runs smoothly, rest assured that you will be managing your employees and team the right way and on the right track.