Strategicleadership is among the most studies leadership concepts in themodern business and leadership. This is because it addresses coreissues that have a direct impact on the future of businessorganizations. Strategic leadership is concerned with how businessand non-business organization can be streamlined to improveefficiency and the engagement of all employees in making leadershipdecisions. They are different leadership approaches that can beadopted by leaders in organization to enhance the success of anorganization. This is influence by several factors, among them thestrategic plan and nature of the organization (Stringham, 2012).Strategic leadership equips the leaders with techniques and skillsthat focus on best practices as well as the purposes of theorganization with an overall aim of remaining competitive andrelevant. Sustainable strategic leadership is influenced by theability of the leader to learn and adapt the changes in theorganization and the business environment. For example, strategicleadership requires that the leader should be able to adapt tochanges in economic, political, social and cultural factors,technology and other risks that have a direct impact on businessactivities. Additionally, strategic leadership is supported bywillingness of the management to allocate resources that arenecessary for an organization to remain successful. It also requiresa balance between human and analytical dimensions in the strategymaking process. This means that strategic leadership is highlydependent on dialogue and participation of all stakeholders in thebusiness organization (Quong & Walker, 2010).
Strategicleadership in business organizations
Strategicleaders are given a huge responsibility of implementing strategicdecisions and plans in the organization. Therefore, there arespecific skills that are essential in every strategic leader. In muchorganization, detecting challenges and threats that have adverse orpositive impacts on the business organization is a major challenge.Strategic leaders should therefore be vigilant constantly sharpentheir skills and abilities to anticipate the future by analyzing thevarious signals of change in the environment. There are several waysthrough which a strategic leader can improve his ability toanticipate and predict the impacts of changes in the businessenvironment. For example, talking to different stakeholders such ascustomers, suppliers, marketers, regulators and other partners willenable the strategic leader to identify their challenges and thusanticipate threats and opportunities. Market and businessenvironmental research and analysis as well as business simulationsis also essential in understanding dynamics of the businessenvironment that have direct impact on the organization. This enablethe strategic leader to understand and anticipate the actions ofcompetitors and accurately predict the response of the market to newproducts, changes in products or new initiatives by the businessorganization. Therefore, the anticipating future opportunities andchallenges to a business organization is critical aspect of strategicleadership (Schoemaker et al, 2013).
Anotherimportant an aspect of strategic leadership is the ability tointerpret confusing and conflicting information. Strategic leadersare always presented with complex and conflicting data andinformation about the market. Strategic leadership involves absorbingall this information and synthesizing it for the benefit of theorganization. This would require the strategic leader to identify andrecognize the patterns, navigate through ambiguity and always signinsights to increase their scope of knowledge (Schoemaker et al,2013). The interpretation of conflicting and complex information isnot an easy task. However, strategic leaders should endeavor todevelop appropriate skills through dialogue with stakeholders andconsideration of diverse perspectives. Participative leadership willensure that the leader is able to zoom into the details and see thebigger picture. In strategic leadership, supplementing theobservation and conflicting information with empirical findings andquantitative analysis is essential.
Strategicleadership involves challenging the status quo. Strategic decisionsare aimed at replacing the current policies, approaches and mindsetswith a more robust strategy which impact positively on thecompetitiveness, performance and success of a business organization.This is dependent on the ability of the management and leadership tosupport and accommodate divergent views and assumptions. Through careanalysis and reflection on divergent views and proposals, strategicleadership is able to develop appropriate strategies and decisionsthat will positively impact on the future of the organization(Schoemaker et al, 2013). For example, strategic leadership focuseson the root causes of a problem rather that the symptoms or effects.This can be done through the application of the five whys analysis.This ensures that the strategy adopted to deal with a problemeffectively prevent the recurrence of the problem in the future.Additionally, in challenging the status quo, strategic leadershipalso involves challenging the long standing traditions and assumptionin the business organization and accommodating the views ofstakeholders considered to be liberals. Thus, strategic leadership issupported by debate and conversation through open dialogue, butwithin the safe zone. Also, strategic leadership captures the inputsfrom individuals and groups that are not directly affected by thestrategic decision adopted by the organization (Stringham, 2012).
Dealingwith uncertain times and unexpected occurrence is also an importantaspect of strategic leadership. Strategic leadership does not onlyinvolve dealing with situations that requires extended consultationsand deliberations before a decision is made, but also deals withsituations that requires impromptu decisions. In some cases, businessleaders are forced to make decisions with inadequate or incompleteinformation, usually without sufficient time to consult. Strategicleadership requires the leadership of organizations to have multipleoptions and be able to make choices amidst multiple simplistic andcomplex alternatives (Schoemaker et al, 2013). Thus, strategicleaders have the courage to make decisions based on their ownconvictions. However, making decisions in uncertain times requiresthe leadership to explicitly consult all the available stakeholdersto expand the scope of the options. Additionally, when making bigdecisions, strategic leadership is aided by subdividing the decisioninto smaller components to avoid unintended consequences (Stringham,2012).
Thereare other aspects of strategic leadership that makes it moreappropriate and effective in the modern business environment. Thisincludes finding common ground in accommodating the views andpositions of diverse stakeholders in the decision making process(Carnall & Roebuck, 2015). In any business organization, theinterest of one group of stakeholders is likely to conflict with theinterests and influences of other stakeholders. Through outreach andparticipative approach to the decision making process, strategicleadership can build trust which promotes active engagement in thedecision making process. Aligning the decisions to divergent viewsand interest among the different groups of stakeholders requireseffective communication structures. Strategic leadership alsoidentifies key stakeholders, both internal and external and mapstheir interests in the organization to avoid misalignment. Strategicleadership is therefore structured to facilitate mutual corroborationand understanding between the different stakeholders. Anotherimportant aspect of strategic leadership is continuous learning.Strategic leadership is supported by enhance knowledge among thedecision makers and stakeholders. For example, lessons on successesand failures of other business leaders and managers are an essentialinsight for strategic business leaders. Additionally, knowledgerelated to cultural, social, and political factors that have aninfluence on the business organization determines whether they willconsidered in strategic decisions (Schoemaker et al, 2013).
Strategicleadership has attracted a lot of attention in the modern businessenvironment. This is due to its role in promoting success andcompetitiveness of business organization. It has also been applied innon-business organization and government agencies and institutions.However, the basic question has been what entails strategicleadership or what strategic leaders do. Strategic leadership isconcerned with the future prospects of an organization and steps thatneed to be taken to reach there. There are specific aspects ofstrategic leaders and qualities of strategic leaders which arecritical if an organization has to enjoy the benefit of strategicleadership. This includes being able to anticipate the futurechallenges and opportunities that have a directly affects theorganization and challenging the status quo. It also involves theinterpretation of complex and enormous information and stakeholder’sinputs and incorporating them in the decision making process. Makingdecisions, both planned and impromptu decision is also an importantaspect of strategic leadership. Continuous learning as well asalignment of the stakeholders interest in the decision makingprocesses. Although drafting strategic plans and visions statementof organization are important aspects of strategic leadership, goesbeyond that. It involves the use of strategic processes andapproaches in the decision making process, with an aim of enhancingthe effectiveness of the management and leadership in anorganization. This makes it an important ingredient for success andsustainable competitiveness.
Carnall,C. & Roebuck, C. (2015). StrategicLeadership Development: Building World Class Performance.Palgrave Macmillan, ISBN 1137415010.
Quong,T. & Walker, A. (2010). Seven Principles of Strategic Leadership,Studiesand Education Administration (ISEA)38(1), pp 22-36.
Schoemaker,P., Krupp, S. & Howland, S. (2013). Strategic Leadership: Theessential skills, January–February 2013 HarvardBusiness review.
Stringham,S. (2012). Strategicleadership and strategic management: leading and managing change onthe edge of chaos.Bloomington, IN: iUniverse.