The Strategic Leader's Roadmap: 6 Steps for Integrating Leadership and Strategy / Harbir Singh and Michael Useem / 2016
Introduction: Strategic Leadership as the Driver of Growth and Renewal
It required an individual who could both think and act strategically, a person with a solid strategy and the capacity to lead its execution. This is due to five trends we see in the markets in which many firms now operate.
- Companies are more globally interdependent and competitive, and shortcomings in either their strategy or their leadership are likely to have greater downsides than in a less connected world.
- The contracting lifecycles for products and the expanding change rates for markets have placed a greater premium on having a competitive strategy in place and an executive team than can execute it in a timely fashion.
- Firms are increasingly contending with not just their direct competitors but also disruptive innovators and changeable customers, and that too has placed a greater premium on more vigilant company leaders and a greater readiness to redirect their strategies.
- New markets in developing economies and growing markets at the bottom of the pyramid in advanced economics are attracting fast-acting and frugal competitors, and the agile exercise of strategic leadership has become critical for reaching and prospering in those leaner and faster-moving markets.
- Investors are placing greater pressure on company executives and directors to exercise active strategic leadership of their enterprise.
The Strategic Leader’s Checklist
Integrate Strategy and Leadership. Master the elements of strategy and leadership both separately and as an integrated whole.
Learn to Lead Strategically. Pursue directed learning, one-on-one coaching, and instructive experience to develop an integrated understanding of strategy and leadership.
Ensure Strategic Fit. Arrange a strong match between the strategic challenges of a managerial position and the individual with the leadership skills to fill it.
Convey Strategic Intent. Communicate strategic intent throughout the organization and empower others to implement the strategy.
Layer Leadership. Ensure that leaders at every level are capable of appreciating strategic intent and implementing it, and hold them responsible for its execution.
Decide Deliberatively. Focus on both short- and long-term objectives; press for disciplined analysis and avoid status-quo bias; and bring the future into the present.
Chapter 1. Principles of Strategy and Leadership
Company strategy can be defined as setting the firm’s general direction and identifying what creates sustainable value and advantage for the firm. And underpinning the strategy is a broader vision with aspirational goals, providing both an overarching trajectory for the firm and an inspiration for employees to achieve it.
Setting Company Strategy
- Competitive positioning.
- Value proposition.
- Competitive advantage.
- Strategic redirection.
When product differentiation is low, companies tend to focus on greater efficiency and lower costs compared with their competitors.
Features of Competitive Positioning
- Product or service differentiation.
- Relative cost of production and delivery of the product or service.
- Superior value proposition.
- Sustained value proposition.
We define company leadership as the actions required to enact, change, and execute company strategy.
Leading the Company
· Align people and organization.
· Create value.
· Optimize advantage.
· Restructure for future advantage.
Chapter 2. Integrate Strategy and Leadership
First, think what is it that you want to achieve. Develop a vision of your business and the results you want, and then answer the question: What needs to happen for this vision to become true?
Second, strategy is about choices. While making decisions to come up with a strategy, it is also important for leaders to recognize what not to change.
“Third, strategizing is about the process of aligning resources and asking the question: Which capabilities do I need to make these things happen?
In summary, strategic leadership is about setting a clear vision and making choices of where to play and how to win, prioritizing goals, and ensuring you have the capabilities necessary to achieve those goals.
Integrating Strategy and Leadership: Two Key Questions
· Strategy: How is our organization positioned to meet a given strategic goal?
· Leadership: Do we have the right people and architecture in place to meet that goal?
Chapter 3. Learn to Lead Strategically
Neither strategy nor leadership is a natural-born skill set, thus learning to become a strategic leader is essential.
- Directed Learning.
- One-on-One Coaching.
- Instructive Experience.
Chapter 4. Ensure Strategic Fit
- Work the Data
- Pinpoint Priorities.
Chapter 5. Convey Strategic Intent
- Convey strategic intent.
- Refrain from detailing how strategy is implemented.
Chapter 6. Layer Leadership
- Convey strategic intent throughout the organization.
- Work across layers.
- Strategic leadership in all layers.
Chapter 7. Decide Deliberatively
- Make disciplined decisions.
- Protect against decision biases.
Chapter 8. Strategy-Led Execution: Carlos Ghosn and Nissan
Execution: From Strategic Diagnosis to Implementable Initiatives
- Strategic Diagnosis and Value Proposition:
- Defining Strategic Initiatives:
- Identifying and Developing Operational Leaders:
Conclusion: Becoming a Strategic Leader
The Strategic Leader’s Roadmap
- Learn to Lead Strategically. Draw upon directed learning, personal coaching, and instructive experience to build a capacity to lead strategically as it applies to both oneself and those in lower layers.
- Focus on product differentiation, relative cost, superior value proposition, and sustained value proposition. In posing questions on strategy and leadership in each of these four areas, consider how the enterprise is best positioned in its markets and then whether the right people and architecture are in place to achieve the strategy.
- Ensure strategic fit, convey strategic intent, layer leadership, and decide deliberatively. Apply them as a bundle to integrate company strategy and its leadership.
- Lead executable initiatives driven by your value proposition, specific initiatives, and operational leaders. Actively transform strategic thinking into operational reality.
- Build boards that provide strategic leadership. Well designed and composed, governing boards can serve as strategic partners of management.
- Develop managers who can think and act strategically. Recruit and build managers who think and act strategically within their own tier.