If not, maybe you would like to be? Stanford Graduate School of Business Professor Jesper B. Sørensen says strategic leadership can be learnt. Listen to him outlining how to become strategic and how it enables you to turn an idea into a sustainable business:
An outstanding innovation is not enough. If you don’t have a strategy you easily get lost in the crowd and fail. If you are strategic you can however differentiate yourself from your competition.
Strategy is an ongoing process and a crucial part of what leadership is about. Every time you make a decision you are actually into strategy. Even when it comes to basics like how to allocate your resources. But for some reason a lot of people don’t realize that even simple decisions like that are strategy.
A lot of people, wrongly, believe strategy is complicated. It’ hence important to demystify the concept so that we can all become self reflective about how we strategize instead of doing it blindly.
Thinking like a scientist is typical of strong leaders. They look at different concepts and develop a vision that the rest of the team can identify with. It’s crucial for a strategic leader to focus on the group as a whole while managers should be concerned with technical aspects that will enable the group to get the job done in the most efficient way possible. But to give staff a sense of belonging is up to the strategic leader.
A leader needs to develop and execute a strategic plan and turn it into action. Fundamental questions are how to organize your people, how to structure incentives, reportive relationships and what kind of a culture would benefit the company. And, not to forget, HR i.e. what kind of people do you want to recruit into the team. Such issues are crucial because in order succeed you need to have an alignment between the organisation and the key elements in your strategy.
Which is more important strategy or the idea?
An innovation means an opportunity. But a lot of innovators focus entirely on the nature of the opportunity and how their, say, product is really going to make a difference. But if you don’t come up with a strategic plan for how you will profit from that innovation you will run into trouble.
Recognizing the obstacles that may block you is important. It could be powerful buyers, suppliers, rivals or simply how you can get an entrance into the industry. Here strategy comes in. If you don’t have a strategy to capture the value you have generated it may never happen.
Have you found your own leadership style?
An abundance of people associate leadership with particular individuals such as Ghandi or Steve Jobs. Sure, it’s important to learn from them but we also have to remember that we are who we are. You bring your personality to the table with your strengths and weaknesses. Effective leaders recognize that and build their leadership style around their pros and cons. You also have to have an alignment between your leadership style and the organisation you are building and your strategy. One way of improving your leadership is, according to Sörensen to turn to others and ask them to honestly evaluate your strengths and weaknesses. He is also of the opinion that all human beings can be strategic leaders in the right situation and the right time. While there’s more to leadership than strategy he’s definitely right that anyone can learn how to become strategic as well as strategies for leading.
Are you a strategic leader? If not, would you like to be? Were you of the impression strategy was more complex than it is? Do you agree with Sörensen that anyone can learn to be a strategic leader? Have you learnt how to strategize? Do you believe an innovation can succeed without a strategy to capitalize on it? Sure there’s always an exception but in general you need a strategy for your business to succeed.