The 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 five steps to developing a Leadership Strategy.
(1) Understand your business strategy.
There are many books and courses on developing business strategies. I don’t want to re-invent this wheel. Suffice to say you should clearly develop that strategy.
(2) Identify the dream(s) of your cause leaders.
Why do I say “dreams”? Far from being fluff, dreams are the stuff that hard, measured results are made of.
Look at it this way: Leadership is motivational or it’s stumbling in the dark. The best leaders don’t order people to do a job, the best leaders motivate people to want to do the job.
The trouble is the vast majority of leaders don’t delve into the deep aspects of human motivation and so are unable to motivate people effectively.
Drill down through goals and aims and aspirations and ambitions and you hit the bedrock of motivation, the dream. Many leaders fail to take it into account.
Dreams are not goals and aims. Goals are the results toward which efforts are directed. The realization of a dream might contain goals, which can be stepping stones on the way to the attaining dreams. But the attainment of a goal does not necessarily result in the attainment of a dream.
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.
Extracted with kind permission from Brent Filson’s “The Leadership Strategy: An Unmined Comstock Lode of Results”
© The Filson Leadership Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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 for more than 20 years has been helping leaders of top companies worldwide get audacious results. Sign up for his free leadership e-zine and get a free white paper: “49 Ways To Turn Action Into Results,” at http://www.actionleadership.com