You want to take that next step…Move from an operational leader to a strategic one.

It can come easy for some, but for most it takes hard work and a new mindset.

If you’re ready to step into a strategic role, or are a manager who is considering which candidate is best for a strategic job, the first thing to remember is that strategic leadership is different from operational leadership.

“The skills that make you a successful operational leader can, in fact, hold you back as a strategic leader,” says CCL’s Kate Beatty, co-author of Becoming a Strategic Leader.

Meeting short-term targets, mastering your functional area and creating stability for focused execution are some of the skills of strong operational leaders.

“Strategic leaders must make decisions that position the business for the future, while meeting current demands,” Beatty continues.

They focus on multiple facets of the business instead of ensuring success in a single area. And, typically, strategic leaders are involved in creating significant organizational change.

Strategic leadership occurs when individuals and teams think, act, and influence others in ways that promote the enduring success of the organization.

How to Become a Strategic Leader

Infographic: How to Become a Strategic Leader

  • Strategic thinking begins with understanding the complex relationship between the organization and its environment. Using that knowledge, you can then make decisions that facilitate the organization’s enduring success.
  • Strategic acting involves taking decisive action consistent with the strategic direction of the organization — despite ambiguity, complexity, and chaos.
  • Strategic influencing is about building commitment to the organization’s strategic direction by inviting others into the strategic process, forging relationships inside and outside the organization and utilizing organizational culture and systems of influence.

More people in today’s organizations need to be strategic leaders. Organizations that coach and develop strategic leaders throughout their ranks are better positioned to weather the changes ahead.

How does having solid strategic leaders in your organization affect change?

This article has been updated but was originally published in July 2013.


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