What makes strategic leadership different than leadership in general? If you’re a good leader, aren’t you in turn a strategic leader? In general, leadership exists because 2 or more people have agreed on a common direction, alignment, and commitment. The key to strategic leadership derives from the context in which the leadership is occurring, and encompasses these 3 elements:
- Scope: A broad scope of strategic leadership means that it has an impact on various departments and sometimes outside of the organization itself. This scope enables the organization to be seen as a system of interconnected and interdependent areas that all work together to achieve organizational success. The realization that one area of the organization cannot operate without the efforts of another is the first step to becoming a strategic leader.
- Duration: A strategic leader must keep long-term goals in mind while still attending to the short-term priorities at hand. It’s important to take a step back from the short-term in order to see the bigger picture of the organization. Having the ability to switch from short-term to long-term focus is a key factor in an organization’s success. Often when someone has a strong skill level for a specific area, it’s hard for them to shift focus and be successful elsewhere.
- Organizational Change: In order to achieve an organization’s full potential, it’s crucial that it go through periodical shifts led by a strategic leader who can successfully facilitate change. Strategy involves patterns of interconnected choices, and strategic transformation requires periodic changes in these patterns.
Dealing with Challenges
As a strategic leader, you must be able to offer guidance that allows people to make sense of the encompassing world and collective challenges, and also explain how the team as a whole will face them. This awareness will lead to a shared understanding among the group.
When a group faces a challenge that has the potential to create obstacles, it’s often the first instinct of the leader to offer their personal views and ideas to solve the situation. What people often don’t realize is that when one person imposes their personal viewpoint of a situation onto a group, it leads to a shared lack of understanding of the situation and can hinder future progress. When a challenge arises, it’s more constructive to create a shared understanding and fix the situation as a team.
Being a strategic leader means having the ability to make common sense of a situation no matter how complex and ambiguous the conditions. When there’s a lack of clarity about direction among members of an organization, it can lead to confusion and disorganization throughout the workplace. Strategic leadership means having the right mindset to gather a shared meaning among a disorganized group to create success out of chaos.
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