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Leadership's Strategic Edge

Mar 24, 2008
There are huge voids of leadership in North American businesses. Managers are doing activities but they are not leading. I see it frequently in my consulting practice. You experience it every day at your work place. The result is a significant loss of a desirable strategic edge to you over your industry.

To move an organization toward its full potential a manager needs two core competencies. They are managership and leadership. The skill sets are cousins and not interchangeable. The first, managership, is concerned with organization care while the second, leadership, is concerned with people care.

We are fair at managership because management sciences are sophisticated, documented, and validated. Business schools adequately teach these skills. Missing from our tool kit is a full understanding, appreciation, and application of leadership as a strategic tool.

Investing in technology will get managerial results. This can be calculated as two plus two equals four. Those returns are acceptable but not exciting to employees or shareholders. If you want results far greater than four you need to use the other skill set - leadership. Investing in your critical brain ware - people's intellectual capital - will get the greater return.

The key to creating synergy is through leadership. The only thing that separates your company from everyone else is the smartness of your people - your intellectual capital. To get this wealth of untapped energy management must provide a comfort zone for employees to excel. But how to create that zone has been a continuous search of researchers, consultants, and business people.

Our human comfort zone is the need for structure, direction, and stability. Current non-leadership is not providing these three elements in the workplace. Fortunately this shortfall can be fixed without a lot of fanfare or expense. The fix is a simple two step process.

The first step is to ask and answer six questions.

1. Where are we going?
2. Where are we now?
3. How do we plan to get there?
4. What will stop us?
5. How will I get people on board?
6. How will I measure progress?

Completing this step brings clarity to the manager's thinking process. Employees must be engaged in the answers to these questions. It is called involvement.

The second step is to publish and communicate the resulting answers as three key elements of the business plan.

1. A clearly articulated vision statement of what you want to be.
2. A short powerful mission statement defining the company purpose.
3. Specific strategic goals that bring the vision to life in concrete, measurable terms.

Completing this step commits the manager to action in an organized fashion. When this information is developed, documented, and communicated to all employees it gives a disproportionate positive results, hence the strategic advantage.

In Summary

Strategic leadership is about having the courage to establish a future direction, communicate a strategic intent to move in that direction, and act with boldness in the execution of that intent.

About Dr. Al Coke:

Dr. Al Coke has a split education and background in both Leadership Sciences and Organization Development Consulting. He has 40 years of leading, managing, training, teaching, and consulting across a wide range of businesses, industries, and countries. His knowledge base is from a practitioner viewpoint--not a theoretical, academic position. His strength is that he speaks from experience.
About the Author
About Canadian Management Centre: With over 40 years experience; Canadian Management Centre has earned the reputation as a trusted partner in worldwide professional development and management education that improves the immediate performance and long-term results of over 12,000 Canadians every year.
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