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The Challenge for Leaders to Ensure Strategic Success in 2017

December 15, 2016 By Steve McGrady

2016 has been a year of unprecedented political change and upheaval in western democracies. The unexpected vote to leave the European Union in the UK; the election of Donald J. trump as President of the U.S., and the loss of a referendum in Italy forcing the Prime Minister to resign may be signs of further upheaval to come. The Arab Spring, that started in Tunisia in December 2010 and spread to many other countries in 2011, and the global financial crisis of 2008 are more examples of how events in the world can have an impact on organisations.

A Key Element

In the face of such events it is vital for leaders and managers to develop their leadership capability. This applies whether you are in a profit-based business, a non-profit organization or a public-sector body linked to government.

External events that create sudden and significant change don’t only affect the financial performance of an organisation, there are also complex group dynamics caused by change. Good leaders understand how leadership is exercised through relationships, groups and organisations; shaped by the situation and the needs of your people.

Every manager and leader needs to be skilled in applying the concepts, methods and tools to think strategically and understand that your organization and its partners, competitors and industry are an integrated, complex system.

Leaders that help their organizations thrive in a rapidly changing world can raise their sights to the real leadership challenges they, and their organization face, rather than the technical, operational and managerial challenges that occupy much of a manager’s time.

Good leaders have the competencies to identify and remove barriers to success. To support this, Kaplan and Norton, who made The Balanced Scorecard and Strategy Maps famous have continued to work on developing better ways to achieve strategic alignment and one of their most recent initiatives was to launch a comprehensive strategic management system that links the formation of Vision, Values, Mission and Goals with the tools of strategy analysis and strategic choice to develop or update strategies and then operationalise them to produce business plans, operations plans and budgets.

There are other hallmarks of leading for strategic success including:

  • Challenging assumptions
  • Transforming personal perspectives
  • High-impact leadership interventions that are very effective

Most leaders that make it to the top of organisations are not just good at strategic thinking and planning, but are also highly effective at managing the internal political issues in an organization and in dealing with resistance to change.

It is vital for leaders and managers to continually refine and enhance their skills so they can help their people by being more resilient and adaptable in responding to change and uncertainty.

Good leaders use a range of approaches to leadership and change management to build a more effective organisation that can realise its potential by:

  • Enabling a problem-solving organizational culture
  • Facilitating radical and continuous improvement in the organization
  • Learning better ways of defining and evaluating the work of the organization
  • Developing the ability of managers to make good judgments quickly

Bold leaders are good at Influencing people to face the realities they may be denying because of their confidence in understanding the strategic impact of the role.

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