Guest post by Sarah Rawson
Throughout the ages, leaders and followers alike have wondered whether the process of leadership depends on inborn traits or whether it can be taught. Great leaders are either born or trained. Still, some people who strive for leadership never quite achieve it. This leads many people to believe that there must be some factors out of a person’s control.
For people who fear that they were not born a leader, hope is not lost. Leadership skills can be taught. Through education and the learning of new leadership strategies, people can understand what it takes to lead a group. Strategic leadership is particularly popular as a concept in emerging businesses, or any business looking for a competitive advantage. Through strategic leadership, a leader can guide a group or company through transitions, suggest creative yet practical ideas, see the big picture, and build relationships with other teams and organizations.
What is different about strategic leadership?
In general, a leader gives directions, organizes, and delegates. But a strategic leader does all of the above with a core focus on strategy. Businesses without long-term goals, a clear strategy and good communication between departments struggle to thrive. With strategic leaders in your company, who have achieved a strategic leadership education, you can ensure your company thrives instead of being forced to grow without a strategy. Operating without clear strategy could ultimately leave you with the potential to be doomed to failure. Strategic leaders must be able to select talent and encourage people in their teams to learn and grow each year through developing additional skills in line with the company strategy, taking on challenging tasks in order to increase their on-the-job education, and so on.
Leaders that Change the Game
Kevin Panozza started a SalesForce in Australia out of the ashes of a failed airline he used to work for. Starting with just 10 staff, he built the company into over 5000 staff in just 12 years, serving various high profile clients. Where call centers are notoriously known for their low morale and high staff turnover, Kevin decided to follow a non traditional strategy with regards to his employees. He ditched the corporate dress code and formalities and created a casual yet focused and staff-centered work environment, which vastly contributed to staff morale and the success of his company.
Steve Jobs is another strategic leader who’s absence was sorely felt when he originally left Apple. On his return the whole climate changed, and the company returned to regain it’s coveted position. Larry Page and Sergey Brin also took Google to great heights by employing strategic leadership. Furthermore, what all the above-mentioned leaders had in common is that they were never shy of bringing in speakers and coaches to train their staff, to push them further and to foster a culture of leaders within their respective organizations.
Can anyone be a strategic leader?
While you might not be what some people consider a natural-born leader, you are still able to learn to be a strategic leader. Education in strategic leadership, including seminars, short courses, and even Master’s in Strategic Leadership programs, will enable you to succeed in leadership contexts. Your focus will be on creating value within the businesses or companies where you work – and not just monetarily, but in less tangible measures such as in talent and drive. If this sounds exciting, you have the potential to be a strategic leader.
What can you do with strategic leadership skills?
Once you have developed the capacity to lead while keeping the big picture in mind, these talents can be applied anywhere from the home to the largest businesses in the world. You’ll be a calmer and happier person when you are not concerned about your leadership skills. This will have the effect of relaxing your team, which can help them do better in their jobs. You will be able to encourage great performance out of people in all areas of life while ensuring everyone is in touch with what is going on.
How do you learn about strategic leadership?
Books and short courses only go so far. If you have completed an undergraduate education, you may wish to pursue this field as a way to lead or improve your leadership, learn about effective decision-making, and develop life skills applicable to other contexts. Even if you have been working full-time, you can go back to school.
Schools worldwide offer various forms of Master’s programs designed for career professionals who want to enhance their abilities. Strategic leadership skills are useful in all areas of your life, and by developing these skills you can grow as a professional and as a person.
Sarah Rawson is a freelance writer and is also studying for her MS in Strategic Management. Her articles appear on various higher education blogs.
The Product Management Perspective: Leadership is the key to successful product management. Eric Hoffer says it well: “In a time of drastic change it is the learners who inherit the future. The learned usually find themselves equipped to live in a world that no longer exists.” Always have a learning mindset. Be strategic in your role as product manager.