What is strategic leadership and how can it help a business and your career? Before we define strategic leadership, it’s important to understand the other types of leaders – managerial and visionary.
Imagine a continuum with managerial leaders on one end and visionary leaders on the other. Managerial leaders are very hands-on with the day-to-day running of the business. They motivate their teams with bonuses, promotions and discipline to keep the business “ticking.” Managerial leaders tend not to look at the future of the business, rather manage affairs in the short-term. Visionary leaders, on the other hand, look to the future and seek to persuade others in the organization to work with them to achieve their long-term goals.
About managerial-style leaders
While both these styles have their advantages, there are also disadvantages that can have a serious affect on a business’s success. For example, under a managerial-style CEO, Air Canada sold off its profitable regional airline, Jazz. The proceeds were returned to shareholders rather than used for investment in the parent company, which suffered as a result and lost market share.
About visionary-style leaders
On the flip side, many “creative” businesses, such as restaurants and advertising agencies, are run by visionary-style leaders; there are reasons that so many of these businesses fold in the first year. The founder has the vision but not the business acumen to achieve both short- and long-term goals.
Achieving the perfect mix
This brings us to the strategic-style leader. Strategic leaders are more than a simple combination of the two styles above. Strategic leaders strive to see where the company could be in the future, using current information; as they guide the company to that future, they concern themselves with business viability – keeping close control on near-term revenue.
The Ivey Business Journal quotes the late Steven J. Ross, former CEO of Time Warner, as saying “These kinds of leaders come to work, dream for an hour, and then do something about those dreams for the next several hours.”
Another skill that strategic leaders have is the ability to empower people within the organization to implement their own ideas to bring company goals to life. To do this, strategic leaders clearly communicate the company vision and ensure it is balanced against short-term goals and defined budgets.
The Spring Arbor University online MBA in Strategic Leadership program provides students with the tools they need to be strategic leaders, with modules that teach how groups and teams are built and motivated, and how organizational culture and strategy can help transform or refine plans for structure, process and people in a business.
In addition, the program teaches techniques that students can employ to help drive transformation and change within a company, including conflict resolution that might be helpful with managerial leaders, and a “we’ve always done it this way” culture.
Finally, the program takes an in-depth look at strategic planning and management to give students the tools they need to plan, to communicate the vision, and to reach business goals.