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Contributing Author: Lewis Edward
There are a number of definitions about strategic leadership, many of them quite complicated and some of them difficult to understand.
To get things straight, it's best to start with a definition of strategy. Simply put, strategy is an action plan devised to achieve a certain objective.
A strategy involves three essential elements:1.) An objective.
2.) A plan.
3.) Execution of the plan.
A strategi0c leader is one who uses strategy to sustain and grow a business. Strategic business leaders differ from visionary leaders and operational leaders, in both their roles in a business and the skills they employ to fulfill these roles.
Visionary leaders concentrate on the objective part of strategy without concerning themselves with the plan.
Operational leaders concentrate on the plan with only a secondary concern about the objective.
Strategic business leaders, however, are concerned with the entire strategy thread. The characteristics required of a strategic business leader essentially boil down to three, revolving around the fundamental elements of a successful business strategy.
Characteristic #1 - Focus on the long-term objective.
The first characteristic of a strategic leader addresses the objective part.
It is the task of a strategic leader to set the right objective for the business for the long-term.
To do this, she or he must consider the entire environment in which the business operates. This means factoring in the industry situation and dynamics, the market condition, political, environmental and cultural surroundings, drawing on all relevant data that is available.
It is the job of a strategic leader to discover the various opportunities that can be uncovered in this landscape.
Having set the objective, a strategic business leader must never take her eyes off it.
Everything in the business operation must be aligned to the objective and it is the leader's job to make sure of that. This characteristic is especially crucial when the going gets rough during financial and political crises where the tendency is to resort to ad hoc decisions and to concentrate on putting out the fires.
A strategic leader must be prepared to take a short-term loss in order not to sacrifice the long-term objective.
Characteristic #2 - Devise creative plans.
The next characteristic of a strategic business leader addresses the plan element of a strategy.
To achieve the objective, a business plan must be:
- Totally aligned with the objective.
- Based on sound fundamental practices.
- Different and unique.
There is always a temptation to succumb to fads or passing trends in devising a plan, brushing aside good fundamental business practices.
It is a strategic leader's responsibility to sift through the chaff and the grain, making sure that a plan adheres to basic, time-tested principles and methods.
Given that, a strategic business leader must come up with plans that are not run-of-the-mill and which give the business a competitive edge.
In these highly volatile times, a good business leader must know when to adjust and when to change course without losing sight of the objective. New competitors, technologies or political situations may arise and she must be mentally-agile enough to take advantage of these and not be left behind by them.
Woman Business Owner Photo via Shutterstock
Characteristic #3 - Get everyone on board to execute the plan.
A good plan to achieve a good objective is useless unless it is properly executed. The strategic business leader must have the ability to communicate the objective and plan to every stakeholder in the organization.
This must be done clearly, unequivocally and consistently.
When finding the right individuals to work on specific tasks, they must be motivated to perform at peak capacity and feel part of the team.
This is not easy to do.
Gender, race and age are just some of the obstacles that a strategic leader has to hurdle so that a plan is executed properly.
In spite of the growing number of women who run countries and businesses, women in leadership positions suffer from the bias inherent in a male-dominated business world. A female CEO needs exceptional strategic leadership skills to overcome this and get everyone in the business focused on the things that matter.
The characteristics of a strategic business leader are akin to those of a ship's captain. She has to set sail for the right port, chart the right course and have everyone rowing in sync.
About the Contributing Author:
Lewis Edward is one of the owners of TheOfficeProviders.com. He is a real estate investor with many interests in other sectors. Lewis researches and contributes various written features for TheOfficeProviders in areas regarding real estate, including office space for rent and serviced offices, and general business and economy matters. Lewis is experienced in the inner workings of both the traditional and flexible workspace industries and has developed close links with various figures in real estate circles, as well other circles. Be sure to follow Lewis on Twitter and him to your circle on Google+
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