The Leadership Strategy:
During the Second World War, Winston Churchill had a framed inscription on his desk that said, "It's not enough to say we are doing our best. We must succeed in doing what is necessary."
The world demands results. Good intentions and promises are no use to it. And one of the best ways for any leader to get results is to employ a strategy, which is a plan, method or series of actions for obtaining a goal or specific outcome. It doesn't matter what job you have or how many people you are leading, if you don't come to grips with the challenges of developing and executing strategies, you're limiting your abilities to get results.
In a sense, strategies are promissory notes, payment due upon demand. One reason for their becoming less than worthy tender is they are not backed by a Leadership Strategy.
Leadership Strategy -- have you heard of it? I bet you haven't. For one thing, it isn't taught at business schools. And for another, even in the unlikely case that you have heard of it and know what it is, you probably don't know how to make it happen.
In this article, I'll show you what a Leadership Strategy is and ways to institute it. It can be far more important than your standard business strategy. Whereas a business strategy seeks to marshal an organization's functions around central, organizing concepts, a leadership strategy, on the other hand, seeks to obtain, organize, and direct the heartfelt commitment of the people who must carry out the business strategy.
The business strategy is the sail, the Leadership Strategy the ballast. Without a Leadership Strategy, most business strategies capsize.
To understand what a Leadership Strategy is, let's look at your past leadership activities.
Divide a single sheet of paper into two columns labeled A & B. At the top of column A write "business (or organizational) strategies". On top of column B write, "Leadership Strategies" -- in other words, what strategies were used to obtain people's heartfelt commitments to carry out the business strategies?
Think of the strategies your organization has developed during the past few years. They might be product strategies, service strategies, growth strategies, sales strategies, marketing strategies. You do not have to explain it in detail, just give each strategy a tag and write down the tag.
Did the listings in column A match the listings in column B? Were there any listings at all in column B? That gap between what was in column A and what was in column B is a killer gap. It means that the business strategies haven't been augmented by Leadership Strategies. And when that happens, results suffer.
I don't care if you lead three people, three hundred or three thousand and more. I don't care if you're in sales, you're a plant supervisor, a marketing manager or a COO, CFO or CEO. You're going to need a Leadership Strategy. And if you don't think you need any kind of strategy, think again. Whatever job you're doing takes strategic thinking. In fact, getting in the habit of looking at whatever you do in strategic terms gives you a great advantage in your career advancement.
The roots of the word "strategy" come from two German words, the first meaning an encamped or spread out army and then second word meaning "to drive." In other words, a strategy gives direction, organization and force to an otherwise scattered organization.
Most business leaders are good a developing business strategies. They're taught how at business schools. But I'll bet that 9,999 out of 10,000 leaders don't know what a Leadership Strategy is, let alone how it fits in with a business strategy.
Leadership Strategies are not taught at business schools because such Strategies find their meaning not in abstract formulations or case studies but in what can't be taught but must be experienced, process and relationship. And if you haven't thought of a Leadership Strategy before, start thinking about it now, because it can boost your career in many ways.
Most leaders develop their strategies in bunkers, without taking into consideration those outside the bunker who have to implement it. Unwittingly, they buy into the "fallacy of automatic reciprocity" — the conviction that their devotion to the cause is automatically reciprocated by the people they lead. It's a fallacy because reciprocity is not automatic. It can't be ordered. It must be cultivated and earned.
Here, then, are four steps to developing a Leadership Strategy.
Churchill had it right, " ... we must succeed in doing what is necessary." And one of the best ways for any leader to get people to succeed in doing what is necessary is to combine a business strategy with a Leadership Strategy.
The author of 23 books, Brent Filson's recent books are, The Leadership Talk: The Greatest Leadership Tool and 101 Ways to Give Great Leadership Talks. He is founder and president of The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. - and has worked with thousands of leaders worldwide during the past 20 years helping them achieve audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership ezine and get a free guide, "49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results," at www.actionleadership.com .
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