Increase Your Strategic Leadership Abilities
Last Updated on by Milton Campbell
When we think of leadership, two types come to mind: tactical and strategic. Tactical leadership is how we lead others through daily life. So, how do you lead your family? What about those around you at work? Tactical leadership is concerned with what you do on a daily basis.
We define strategic leadership, on the other hand, as the process of leading a group of people from a current situation to a desired future outcome. It requires looking ahead, judging what resources are needed and what skills will be required to successfully accomplish the goal.
Table of Contents
- Am I an Ineffective Leader?
- Becoming a More Effective Leader
- The Importance of an Effective Strategy
- Characteristics of Strategic Leadership
Am I an Ineffective Leader?
You may be an ineffective leader if you have any of these 9 signs in your work:
1. You don’t know what you want to accomplish and where you want to go.
2. You don’t set expectations for yourself and others.
3. You don’t take measures to ensure that the team is working towards the goal.
4. You don’t plan for contingencies.
5. You don’t build trust with your team members.
6. You are unable to build a cohesive team and get everyone to pull in the same direction.
7. Your decisions are not aligned with your values and beliefs, or with the needs of your team members and organization.
8. Your actions do not reflect professional behavior, your values, or what’s important to you or your organization.
9. You don’t have a process in place to hold yourself accountable, or you have difficulty self-monitoring your effectiveness as a leader.
Becoming a More Effective Leader
Every leader has a unique style of leadership. There is no one size fits all type of leader. Some leaders are more effective than others, some are not effective at all. It is important for individuals to be aware of their leadership style and know-how to adapt their leadership style to the situation.
To be an effective leader, you must first consider the following questions:
What kind of leader am I? How do I like to lead? Do I like to be hands-on or hands-off? Do I prefer for people to speak up and give suggestions or do I prefer that my team members offer me solutions without me asking? What is the culture of my team and the organization? How can I build a positive environment in which my team and staff can thrive? What kind of environment do they thrive in? Do they need constant feedback and do they need me to point out mistakes they make or do they need leadership that works with them and lets them figure things out on their own?
How will I inspire my team/staff to perform better? What methods will I use to motivate them? Will I provide training so that they can improve and grow as individuals or will I provide them with challenges so that they can improve themselves even if it means making mistakes along the way?
The Importance of an Effective Strategy
Strategic planning and good leadership go hand in hand. Most companies have annual strategic planning sessions to determine where they will be in one year, three years, five years, or even 10 years. These plans outline the company’s vision and mission, as well as its objectives and strategies for achieving them.
Strategic planning is crucial because it’s the first step toward achieving anything of significant value. Without a plan, an organization can’t move forward effectively . . . and without clear direction from top management, employees will find it difficult to accomplish their goals.
Strategy has four components: Mission, Objectives, Strategies, and Tasks (MOST). These terms are used interchangeably today and many view them as one and the same. If you have ever been involved in strategic planning with your organization then chances are you know that they are all very distinct yet they do overlap and intertwine with one another.
Characteristics of Strategic Leadership
The crucial element to leadership is the ability to understand, accept and take charge of change. Your cognitive skills are important for assessing these opportunities, devising solutions and communicating them effectively. With an understanding of what effective leadership is you can then build your leadership style to suit the circumstances. Good communication skills will help you motivate and influence people in a positive manner, while your persistence and determination will underpin your actions.
The Relationship Between Strategic Leadership and Emotional Intelligence Quotient (EQ)
Leaders do more than just make the tough decisions. They also have the ability to connect with people and inspire them to go above and beyond what is expected.
What is the relationship between strategic thinking and a person’s emotional intelligence quotient (EQ)? For years, researchers have been studying leadership traits such as intelligence, personality, and skills. These characteristics are important, but they can’t replace the importance of another set of traits that are critical in today’s business world: emotional intelligence (EQ). Emotional intelligence is one of the important strategic leadership skills.
Emotional intelligence is the ability to identify, assess, and control emotions while leading and motivating others. EQ is said to be a more accurate predictor of job performance than IQ or technical skill.
It represents one’s ability to use emotions to facilitate thought instead of letting feelings get in the way. Leaders must possess strategic thinking, but they also must be able to effectively manage their own emotions as well as those of their staff members.
Most experts agree that there is a strong relationship between strategic thinking and emotional intelligence (EI). In fact, Dr. Travis Bradberry, co-founder of TalentSmart and author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0: Why It Can Matter More Than IQ, argues that the two are “inseparable.”
“In order to be good at strategy, you must have emotional intelligence,” he says. “If you’re not skilled at reading people, you’ll never be able to predict human behavior well enough to come up with an effective strategy.”
Bradberry explains that strategic thinking involves considering multiple variables simultaneously and then acting upon those variables. This process is governed by one’s emotional intelligence.
“Great strategists aren’t any smarter than the rest of us,” he says. “They simply recognize the role emotions play in decision-making and act accordingly.”
Stop Being Reactive and Be Proactive
There’s a huge difference in the effectiveness of proactive leaders vs. those who are reactive. Reactive leaders are always responding to problems, fires, and obstacles as they emerge. Alternatively, proactive leaders spend time thinking and planning ahead. They set goals and objectives, create strategies to achieve those goals, and then work to achieve them.
Tons of research has been done on this topic and the data is overwhelming. It shows that people who are proactive at work enjoy more job satisfaction, better relationships with coworkers, and higher performance ratings. They’re also more likely to get promoted.
So what’s the difference between a reactive leader and an action-oriented pro? It comes down to three things: mindset, motivation, and action.
Mindset: A reactive leader thinks, “I can’t control what happens to me.” A proactive leader thinks, “I can control what I do about it.” Motivation: A reactive leader thinks, “I have to do this because my boss told me so.” A proactive leader thinks, “I want to do this because it helps the business.” Action: A reactive leader thinks about doing something but doesn’t actually do it. A proactive leader takes action.
The more you can shift into being proactive rather than reactive, the more effective you will be as a leader. Being proactive has these advantages:
- You get more done because you’re not constantly chasing new problems.
- You look like a leader because you’re the one telling other people what to do.
- Your team is able to look at their job with a long-term perspective rather than only focusing on today’s tasks.
- t’s easier for everyone when there’s less chaos to react to.
- You have more time for strategic thinking rather than constantly putting out fires.
- You can tackle big problems sooner because you see them coming before they happen.
- You don’t waste time on small problems that aren’t worth your attention.
Encourage an Environment of Growth
It’s in your nature to go above and beyond for the people in your life. To be there for them when they need it most. To encourage and uplift them. That’s what makes you a good leader…and why people are drawn to good leaders like magnets!
When people are inspired, they have the ability to do incredible things! Your thoughts have the power to create life-changing results in the lives of others…if you let them!
You can choose to change the way you think about situations in your life…to focus on what’s right instead of what you perceive as wrong…on what brings you joy instead of sadness…on what sets your soul on fire instead of putting it out!
The choice is ultimately up to you, but keep this in mind: The more positive energy you put out into the universe, the more positive energy will come back into your life.
Strategic leadership is a process. It’s simple to understand, but most often difficult to perfect and implement. Strategic Leadership can be difficult to master, but it’s one of the most important skills managers should possess.
The best strategy leaders are constantly assessing, adapting, and redefining their roles as leaders. If you are interested in bettering yourself, your team and becoming a better leader overall, these tips for developing your Strategic Leadership will definitely help you get there.
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