Who provides strategic leadership in successful organizations? If you think this kind of leadership is just for executives, VP’s, and Senior Managers, then I want to challenge you to think again. I particularly want to challenge ALL employees, particularly those on the frontline, in every business, to see him or herself as a strategy leader.
The truth is that everyone can be a strategy leader whether they are in a formal leadership role or not. Did you know that long-term business success can only happen when everyone takes the initiative to work together to create, implement, and improve their company’s business strategy? At its core, this is what being a strategy leader is all about.
The fact is that it would take a very long time for companies to move forward, grow, and be successful if they waited for the business executives alone to come up with all the great ideas relating to strategic direction and strategy. It is impossible for this small group of employees to have the comprehensive and detailed view of the business and the insights required to achieve quantum leaps forward in business.
When you think about it you realize that it’s almost crazy to think that a handful of people could have all the knowledge needed to achieve this result! However, this is how most businesses operate today. They put pressure on their executives to have all the strategic insights required to produce exceptional business results.
But what if businesses tapped into the knowledge, wisdom, and insights of everyone involved in, and with, their organization to build, manage, and improve strategy?
Imagine what strategic insights could be gathered from such a large group of people with their deep knowledge of their part of the business and where the opportunities are! And imagine if this large group of people contributed these insights on an ongoing basis throughout the strategy creation, management, and improvement process. Can you imagine how powerful and successful such an organization would be, regardless of what their definition of success looked like? (e.g. educating girls and women in
Well, this is exactly what happens when everyone in an organization is a strategy leader.
Here’s what you can do today to be a strategy leader in your company:
1. Really Understand the Business Strategy
Get to know the strategy, including the core values, strategic objectives, business priorities, and strategic action plans, and practice telling others the strategy story using your company’s strategy map.
2. “See” Your Work in the Strategic Plan
Make sure that you can clearly see how you contribute every day to successful strategy execution. Think beyond the obvious functional connections – you contribute in more ways than you might first imagine!
3. Put the Strategic Objectives to Work Every Day
Successful strategy execution happens day after day so bring the strategic objectives you play a role in to work with you every day. It is important that you consciously put them into action in as many work situations as possible.
4. Work with Others to Make the Business Strategy Even Better
Because you are putting the business strategy into action every day, no one knows better than you, and your co-workers, where the opportunities for improvement are. Take action and make required improvements, or feed your ideas back into the strategy improvement process.
5. Practice Thinking Strategically
Look at issues and new opportunities from a strategic perspective and always ask: “Is this the right thing to do in light of our strategy?” When the answer is “yes”, embrace changes that will help move the business strategy forward.
6. Ask Lots of Questions – About Everything!
Ask probing and insightful questions when presented with issues and opportunities. Use the answers to these questions to assess potential and analyze the value of an idea or action in relation to the strategy and to improve the strategy itself.
7. Leverage Strategic Information to Make Good Decisions
Access strategic information, like balanced scorecard results, to understand what is going on inside and outside your company. Use this information to make strategic decisions, establish priorities for your team’s work, and set targeted goals.
8. Focus on Building Alignment with Business Strategy
Organizational alignment and synergy are critical for strategy achievement. This means that you must contribute to ensuring that all work is lined up with the business strategy. Do what you can to make this alignment and synergy happen and be sure to speak out when you see things falling short.
Of course, the executive team MUST help all employees be strategy leaders by actively offering encouragement and support. The old style of leadership and management control will not allow your organization to realize the full benefits of this new approach. A new style of leadership is required to successfully engage and mobilize strategy leaders at all levels of an organization.
It’s worth the effort to change.
When everyone in an organization works together to put these eight actions into practice, the company will be better positioned to successfully formulate and execute its business strategy, and achieve the exceptional business performance results everyone in your company is striving for.
And besides – it’s more fun to work in an organization where you play a vital and active role in its success!