May 13, 2023

Leadership, Linking, Linking Leader Profile (LLP|360)


Leadership Linking Skill: Strategy

In today's rapidly changing business landscape, strategic leadership is no longer optional; it's essential. Strategy, at its core, refers to calculated, deliberate decisions that align with an organisation’s long-term purpose. Yet, all too often, we find organisations functioning like separate colonies, where each department is diligently working in its silo, often losing sight of the overall organisational goals.

Think of an organisation as a cybernetic system. Each department's output becomes another's input. It's a complex web where every string is connected, albeit subtly. The crucial challenge for leaders is to understand these interconnections and see the 'big picture'. Leaders need to step back from the day-to-day tasks to evaluate how the pieces fit together to achieve the organisation's grand plan.

The key here is flexibility, a concept deeply ingrained in the first law of cybernetics, known as the Law of Requisite Variety. In the natural world, species that adapt to changes are the ones that survive. In business, survival also hinges on adaptability and strategic thinking. Leaders must continually monitor every aspect of work and adapt, ensuring the outputs of individual parts enhance the organisation's overall outcomes.

Strategic leaders need a dual perspective. They need to 'zoom out' to assess the macro-environment's impact and 'zoom in' to understand individual teams and team members' contributions. This enables them to ensure that the actions of individual units align with and enhance the organisation's overall goals.

Strategic planning calls for a steadfast long-term vision paired with actionable short-term plans. It's about setting realistic timeframes and, more importantly, being flexible enough to adjust those plans in response to unexpected changes. The ability to anticipate potential roadblocks, critically evaluate plans, and make necessary adjustments is key to successful leadership.

Separating facts from assumptions is also a crucial element in strategy formulation. This demands a focus on long-term outcomes, creative responses to setbacks, and continuous analysis and adjustment of their approach.

In the renowned book, The Fifth Discipline Fieldbook (Senge et al, 2006), the authors explore the significance of systems thinking in a learning organisation. They discuss how complex feedback processes within organisations can lead to problematic patterns of behaviour. They introduce the 'Shifting the Burden' archetype, distinguishing between the 'quick fix' and the root cause of a problem. The 'quick fix' might relieve the symptoms temporarily, like an aspirin for a headache, but it doesn't address the root cause. Similarly, strategic leaders look beyond quick fixes to address underlying issues, ensuring long-term organisational health.

In conclusion, strategic leadership is a delicate balancing act between the 'big picture' and individual components of an organisation. It calls for a deep understanding of the organisation's interconnected parts, flexibility, foresight, and an unyielding focus on long-term outcomes. 

May 13, 2023

Leadership, Linking, Linking Leader Profile (LLP|360)

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