What Is Strategic Leadership & Why Is It Important?

Every company knows the importance of having a good leader. Every company knows the importance of having a business strategy. When these two things combine to create one powerful leader, the success of your business could improve greatly.

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What exactly is strategic leadership, and what is the difference between leadership and management? Most importantly, how can you learn the skills that it takes and use strategic leadership to the benefit of your business?

Let’s check why this particular leadership style is so effective in making sure that your business is successful in the long run.

What Is Strategic Leadership?

You might have already asked yourself “what is my leadership style” and am I using leadership techniques? But, before we look at the why let’s take an in-depth look at the what. Though you may think you know exactly what strategic leadership is, it may be a bit more complicated than it appears.

Here are the methods of strategic leadership that separate it from the rest.

Understanding the Organization’s Mission

Before creating any sort of business strategy, a leader needs to know, in no uncertain terms, exactly what the mission of the organization or company is. 

A strategic leader sits down and takes a deep look into what the true core of the business is. They need to understand the exact end result that the business hopes to reach and compare that to the end result that the company is actually headed toward if they don’t change course.

The ultimate goal of effective strategic leadership is to change the trajectory of the business toward a better one. In order to make the appropriate strategic change, the current course and values of the business have to be understood at the heart of an effective leadership.

Anticipating by Remaining Vigilant

A good leader can adapt to challenges and obstacles as they come their way. A potential strategic leader can see those challenges before they happen and adjust accordingly.

To anticipate an ever-changing market and customer base, the leader must pay close attention to current trends. A strategic leader will remain vigilant and pick up on small shifts both inside and outside of the company. 

Asking customers and clients for their feedback, paying close attention to any challenges they communicate, and doing research into the past of the business that the company is in are great ways to improve the ability to anticipate future changes before they happen. Keeping a close eye on what the competition is doing is also paramount to preparing ahead of time.

Challenge Themselves and the Status Quo

The strategic leader is never one to go with the flow. They are constantly challenging not only the status quo but also are challenging the perception of those around them and even their own.

A strategic leader is a leader that will actively encourage divergent points of view. They want to see all of the different possible angles that others could view the situation from. This type of leader wants to take every viewpoint into account before deciding the best course of action to take.

This requires a lot of patience and an open mind to absorb as much information on different solutions as possible.

Interpret the Data

After gaining all of the different information, viewpoints, and opinions as possible, the strategic leader will begin interpreting all of the data together. This is where the logic comes into play.

A strategic leader looks at all of the data and compares it side-by-side. They don’t make any assumptions or jump to conclusions too fast. They are able to recognize patterns, controversial aspects of the strategic planning, and how other competitors have responded to similar things in the past.

They compile all of this information, see if anything is missing, seek out more, and create multiple possible solutions. From there, they begin to make  strategic decisions.

Make Decisions

Only after they have taken a good look at the company’s mission, gathered all information and different viewpoints possible, watched out for the competition, and come up with all possible options, does the strategic leader make a decision.

The key part of this is that the strategic leader makes a decision. They choose a specific plan of action, a concrete solution to propel the company forward toward a successful future. They don’t theorize and speculate just for fun, they do it to synthesize all information into a clear choice.

Keep Learning

After the decisions have been made, the strategic leader understands that the job is not over. They continue to collect new data, ask for new viewpoints, and anticipate the changes in the market. They never stop challenging the status quo or their perspective. They are able to remain open to better solutions and continuously pivot and adjust as time goes on and as new discoveries are made.

This flexibility is what makes the strategic leader effective at what they do and at ensuring the continued growth of the company.

Important Traits of a Strategic Leader

Though there are different ways to lead strategically (you might even be familiar with what is a laissez faire leadership style, this can also be strategic), there are some certain traits that every strategic leader must have.

Here are a few of those key traits that every strategic leader must have to be effective at leading their business to success.

Self Aware

As with any good leader, a good strategic leader needs to be very self-aware. They have to have a good understanding of their own personal strengths and weaknesses, be in tune with their emotions and feelings, and be capable of keeping themselves in the proper headspace to lead effectively and honestly.

Trust, Reliability, and Integrity

A strategic leader must also be a trustworthy and reliable person. A flaky person does not make for a strategic leader.

They also must practice having good integrity. Do you know what is ethical leadership? A strategic leader should also be an ethical leader. If a leader doesn’t create a workplace with respect and honesty at its core, they won’t be able to lead anyone to realize their vision. They will not be able to get anyone on their side if they don’t earn the trust of their employees or collaborators. 

Communication Skills

Finally, a strategic leader must have excellent communication skills. They must be good at explaining things in a way that not only makes sense to other people but also makes them feel motivated to make the changes that they recommend.

 A great leader also must be good at the listening aspect of communication. This is what will allow them to hear what every viewpoint on the certain circumstance is and collect all of the information they need to create the best gameplan possible.

Why Is Strategic Leadership Important?

Now that you know what effective strategic leadership looks like and what traits a strategic leader possesses, let’s take a look at why this technique is so important in the success and lifespan of any business.

It Creates Opportunity for a Better Trajectory

The primary goal of any strategic leadership style is to create a better trajectory for the company. The idea is that the “default trajectory” is what path the business is headed toward if they don’t change anything on their path. If this default trajectory isn’t what a company is aiming for, this is where strategic leadership becomes necessary.

Strategic leadership is always intentional. It works because the strategic leader is active in anticipating changes, gathering all information possible, and formulating new ideas for how to shake things up.

If a business doesn’t use strategic leadership, the dynamic can shift and become stale. Innovation can’t thrive, changes for the better can’t take place, and the business eventually spirals into something that no longer works.

It Strengthens Your Business’s Standing Among the Competition

In any industry, competition is going to be something that your business will have to stand out from. Though they could be a threat, competitors can also push us to better our own practices and create a company that we’re proud of. 

This is where the anticipation and research aspects of a strategic leadership style can really help. If you have a strategic leader who keeps a finger on the pulse of the industry and what other businesses are doing, you can ensure that your company stays one step ahead of the competition.

Planning ahead of time instead of reacting afterward creates a dynamic company that is able to keep up with the times. Strategic leadership is the best way to keep your business on the cutting-edge of things, always advancing and never stagnating. 

Implement Strategic Leadership Within Your Company to Ensure a Better Outcome

If you’re looking to build your company to be as successful as possible, learn how to develop leadership skills and implement a more strategic style of leading.

For more information on how to become a more strategic leader, head over to Maui Mastermind to get help building an effective leadership strategy.

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What Is Strategic Leadership & Why Is It Important?
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What Is Strategic Leadership & Why Is It Important?
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Maui Mastermind Business Coaching
Business David is a Wall Street Journal and Business Week bestselling author of 11 business and financial books. A syndicated columnist for Inc.com and HuffingtonPost.com, David’s articles have appeared in over 6,500 publications. As the founder and CEO of Maui Mastermind®, David has worked with 100,000+ business coaching clients and community members to buy, build, and sell over $5 billion of businesses.