Strategic leaders refer to leaders who are responsible for changes in the company’s strategy. Leaders refer to not only the CEO but also those who have power and subordinates, such as functional level managers. Although, indeed, this term refers more to CEOs and other executives because of their high power.
They translate the company’s strategic vision into a series of strategies and tactics. They empower company resources to achieve company goals. Another critical task is to motivate and persuade others to achieve that vision.
The company’s future is uncertain because of the dynamic business environment. Every change in the business environment exposes the company. It can change the company’s competitive advantage to a competitive disadvantage because all those dynamics present opportunities as well as challenges. Of course, the company must be able to take advantage of these opportunities while minimizing threats.
Strategic leaders strive to bring the company in the desired direction. They should consider external and internal environments to make a strategic decision. They try to describe the desired future position of the company and make strategic decisions to achieve it.
What strategic leaders do
Not all threats and opportunities are “strategic” for the company. Likewise, not everyone is in the same mode to reach the company’s vision and goals. Companies may also not have the right resources to compete. For this reason, companies need strategic leaders.
Strategic leaders identify the right resources and capabilities to compete. When companies don’t have it, they try to build it. They also create organizational structures and develop an appropriate corporate culture.
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Resources and capabilities form core competencies. The company uses it to exploit strategic opportunities and minimize strategic threats. When successful in implementing it, the company has strategic competitiveness. And, the result is a competitive advantage.
In this case, the strategic leader translates the company’s vision and mission into a series of actions. They consider the company’s core competencies to do it. With that, employees come to know why companies need them and what they need to do every day.
Strategic leadership uses a system of rewards and incentives to direct people in the company. They ask everyone to be in the same mode. They encourage employees to be productive and passionate in achieving the company’s vision and mission.
Why companies need strategic leaders
The business environment continues to change. Those changes have been getting faster and more dramatic in recent times. Globalization and advanced technology bring rapid changes in the competitive landscape. And, they bring two far-reaching implications to the company: opportunity and threat.
Companies need strategic leadership to deal with such a complex and dynamic environment. They need experienced people with well-developed leadership abilities and understanding. The ultimate goal is, of course, to bring the company to a sustainable competitive advantage.
Strategic leadership can translate the company’s vision into a series of actions, considering two main factors. First is external opportunities and threats. Second is internal strengths and weaknesses related to company resources and capabilities. They look at those two factors in two horizons: present and future.
The presence of strategic leaders energizes the creation of innovative strategies. They also encourage the effective implementation of these strategies. Like a train, they are machinists who control locomotives and carry many carriages to get to their destination.
What makes a leader strategic
Successful leaders not only succeed in converting their vision into a series of steps and real activities. They also need to be able to make everyone feel they need to go to that vision. In short, they must succeed in selling vision ideas.
Strategic leadership is about the most effective way to achieve the vision. Leaders build and manage the process of making corporate strategies. They use their knowledge and enthusiasm to provide strategic leadership for their subordinates. They provide how subordinates achieve a high-performance in implementing their plan.
In several books, some experts identify the characteristics of strategic leaders as follows:
- Visionary and fluent in translating it into a series of actions. They are also consistent and consistent in making it happen.
- Able to articulate a vision into a business model. They can answer how companies make money, what companies need, and how to do it—with that, building the right resources, capabilities, and organizational culture.
- Have a high commitment to realize the vision and implement a series of actions.
- Think thoroughly and be well informed. It is essential to reduce bias in decision making. Decision making often involves dilemmas, especially relating to short-term and long-term goals.
- Willing to delegate and empower. Not all tasks can be done alone. They need to empower subordinates to carry it out effectively. With that, subordinates feel to become an important part of the company.
- Able to use power in smart ways. Stakeholders often conflict in realizing their respective interests. Likewise, office politics often brings disharmony in teams and breaks up synergies. All this poses a threat to companies, and strategic leaders know how they have to make the right decision.
- Have emotional intelligence. Building empathy and involvement are often more effective than reward and punishment systems. The latter not only raises the cost consequences but also worsens the morale of employees.
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