Strategic Leadership: It’s Not Just For Leaders Anymore

Not too long ago, there was a day in business when everything revolved around the leadership team. Strategy, planning, decision, and policy-making were all critical activities that happened exclusively at the top for the benefit and consumption of those leaders.

And training was no different, primarily focused on leaders alone or leaders going first.

That’s not a credible way to lead an organization any longer. While still owned and directed by leadership, strategy and decision-making are now the domain of the entire organization. It has become a core competency of the organization as a whole.

Here are the general requirements for those whose thought process lags behind contemporary businesses.

The first step is to involve all team members in your organization’s strategy and decision-making efforts.

We do this because it fosters employee engagement, ownership, and commitment. There are several ways to achieve this:

1. Transparent Communication – establish an open and transparent communication culture. Where everyone can learn about the organization’s strategy, goals, and decision-making processes, ensuring there is an awareness of what’s happening and all can contribute effectively.

2. Translation of Objectives – aligning individual and team objectives at every level with the organization’s overall strategic objectives. When employees understand how their work connects to the broader goals set above them, they feel more engaged and motivated to contribute their ideas and efforts.

3. Develop Collaborative and Cross-Functional Teams – bringing together diverse perspectives. These teams allow employees from different departments or units to participate in decision-making and contribute their expertise and insights.

4. Give Empowerment and Autonomy – fostering a culture of empowerment where employees have the autonomy to make decisions within their areas of expertise. Allow them to take ownership and provide opportunities for as many as possible to participate and contribute their ideas.

5. Provide Training and Development Opportunities – that will enhance employees’ skills, knowledge, and capacity for decision-making. These opportunities will equip team members with the tools to participate in strategic discussions and actively support decision-making.

6. Inclusive Decision – Making Processes-will involve team members at various levels in decision-making by creating cross-functional task forces or committees, ensuring a diverse range of perspectives are shared and considered, guaranteeing decisions will be made collectively.

7. Recognition and Rewards – will celebrate and reward employees for their contributions to the completion of strategic initiatives reinforcing the value of their involvement and encouraging continued participation.

8. Continuous Improvement – provides mechanisms to help team members be their best. Practices should include monthly (individual) and quarterly (team) progress review meetings to enable team members and their departments to discuss and reflect on past decisions, identify improvement areas, and plan for future actions.

9. Leadership Coaching and Guiding Support – involve and support team members with their job responsibilities and strategic initiatives they are working toward. The leaders involved must actively encourage participation, listen to feedback, and be willing to incorporate their input into final decisions.

Remember that involving all team members in strategy and decision-making is an ongoing process that, once started, requires a supportive organizational culture committed to inclusivity and collaboration.

On the team member side of the ledger, responsibilities also need to be met. After all, there will be an expectation that future leaders of the organization will emerge from their involvement and development in the strategic leadership process.

The work done on the team member side should be as rigorous as on the senior leadership team.
Douglas Conant, the former CEO of Campbell’s Soup Company, shared an applicable quote,

“Leadership does take work, and it should. If you aspire to be a leader, then you should treat Leadership as a craft, you ought to become a student of it, and you ought to work at it. And if you’re unwilling to work at it, you get what you give.”

If you’re part of the team and asked to give your best effort, give willingly and genuinely. This commitment includes making the time to train and develop.

Training efforts in any organization are essential for fostering professional development, enhancing skills, and promoting a culture of continuous learning. Some additional considerations for implementing training initiatives:

Make regular assessments of training needs. Evaluation can occur through one-on-one meetings, surveys, select interviews, or performance evaluations to identify team members’ skills and knowledge gaps.

Build an individual development plan for every team member. Encourage each manager and team member to collaborate on an annual development plan, aligning their individual and career goals with the organization’s strategic objectives. Make your team members take ownership of their learning and development and ensure their training efforts are targeted and meaningful.

Provide various training opportunities. Offer a range of training methods that will meet diverse learning preferences, including workshops, seminars, e-learning modules, on-the-job training, coaching, mentoring, and external courses. Individuals may benefit from different approaches, so provide options that accommodate those learning styles.

Internal training programs. Establish internal programs that leverage the expertise and tribal knowledge within the organization. Encourage the best subject matter experts and experienced team members to lead these training sessions or share their insights through other knowledge-sharing means.

Go outside the organization. To support team members’ participation in external training programs, conferences, and workshops that are of value. Exposure to industry practices, new technologies, and emerging trends will help bring fresh ideas and perspectives back to the organization.

Focus on leadership development. By offering a prescribed regimen of training programs for developing leadership skills at all levels of the organization, you will ensure that individuals involved in decision-making processes and strategic initiatives have the skills to fulfill their roles effectively.

A robust training and development program must be a significant component of a culture of continuous learning. By promoting self-directed learning, knowledge sharing, and technical skills development, individuals and teams will have the necessary tools and resources to succeed.

Always remember that an organization’s training efforts should be aligned with its strategic leadership aspirations and objectives. Organizations can leverage their strategic leadership capabilities in and outside the business by investing in training and development for every team member.

Let’s Wrap This Up

This should help cement your views on the importance of strategic leadership capability within your organization. If you’re looking for more guidance, let’s have a chat.

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