Sunday, April 7, 2013

Three “S’s in Strategic Leaders

Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you must be without one, be without the strategy.” -Norman Schwarzkopf

Perhaps many people thought to be strategic just means to think bigger or know strategy frameworks, strategic thinking is specified as being conceptual, systems-oriented, directional, linking the future with the past and opportunistic. It deals with "discovering novel, rewriting the rules of the competitive game." statistically, only 10% of leaders exhibit strategic skills; if a good strategy embraces three “C”s: Creativity, Context, and Cascade, then a good strategic leader should also cultivate three “S”s quality.

1. Shape

Strategic leaders will not only think, but also act, influence others in ways that shaping the enduring success of an organization.

  • Shape Mindset: A strategic thinker can identify connections, patterns, and key issues, as a good strategy always includes how to diagnose the problem, and set up a series of choices to compete for the future. So a strategic leader is open-minded, set up a clear, multi-channel communication strategy for staff and allow an open dialogue—in this regard, he/she is also an innovative leader in shaping creative, digital, and global mindset in the digital era.
  • Shape Influence: A strategic leader will  break down old leadership box based on physical characteristics floating on the surface, and  shape new leadership influence based on insight & foresight. Being strategic is also an action, not a state of being. A strategic leader makes positive influence based on vision/value/character, as executing a good strategy takes value-based principles, well-defined guidelines, and well-planned practices. 
  • Shape Strategy: Sure, an effective strategist should be able to craft a good strategy. A strategic leader examines the predictability, the extent to which the future of the environment can be forecast, which depends on the degree of complexity and dynamic change. When the future is unpredictable but malleable by some players, such companies can employ a shaping strategy. Systems of companies often come together to pursue shaping strategies in the embryonic stages of a new industry or after a major disruption. A good strategy always includes execution as part of the strategy.  

2. Structure

A strategic leader can think structurally and build up a framework to execute strategy. As a strategy without action is a daydream, and an execution without strategy is a nightmare. 

  • Structural Thinking to connect the Dots of “What” & “How”: A strategy is a roadmap of specific steps or actions that will take you from your current state to your desired future state. If you cannot connect the dots between the “what” of a strategy and the “how” of an execution plan, you will never be a strategic leader.  

3. Stretch

“It is not required that we know all of the details about every stretch of the river. Indeed, were we to know, it would not be an adventure, and I wonder if there would be much point in the journey.”   ― Jeffrey R. Anderson

  • Stretch Vision & Goals: Strategic leaders act in ways that manage the tension between well-done in daily tasks and success in the long term. Stretching time horizons to give the short, medium, and long term each its due. Stretching vision enables the team to be forward-looking, overcome barriers in order to achieve long-term high performance. 
  • Stretch Engagement Models: The main objective of strategic leadership is strategic productivity. Strategic leaders are proficient at delegation to delegate and authorize- avoid overloading of responsibilities. Stretch the employee engagement models to foster dialogue, preparedness, and alignment across the organization, to create business synergy via optimizing business resources, culture, and capabilities. etc. “Certain elements may try to stretch this beyond what it is.” -Ron Ziegler 
  • The stretch of Imagination: Stretching the collective thinking with new techniques to boost creativity and insight. Strategic leaders continue to drive business growth, Stretch your team’s imagination, without imagination, strategy is plain or even tedious. “Imagination is more important than knowledge, knowledge is limited, but imagination is encircling the world.” -Albert Einstein 
Therefore, a strategic leader is not always looking up blue sky, it takes creativity to shape the vision of business; it takes the character to overcome obstacles; it takes the structure to framework execution plans; and it takes a stretch to lead effectively and adaptively.



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