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Strategic Leadership: Explained

Strategic Leadership: Explained

Strategic leadership is a powerful leadership style, but also immensely challenging.

Not only must you understand yourself as a leader, think critically, inspire others, and challenge your own view of the world; you must also understand the changing cultural and technological landscapes in which (your) business operates to achieve the strategic vision while still moving with the times.  

In this post, you’ll learn about strategic leadership and five of its biggest leadership challenges. The post concludes with a brief discussion of our Strategic Management Masterclass and how you can use it to improve your leadership skills. 

Strategic leadership is about expressing a vision for an organisation, or part of the organisation, and persuading and motivating others to acquire this same vision. You, the leader, implement the strategy in your management of employees, influences organisational members and executes changes that will make the vision possible. 

Who does strategic leadership suit?

Strategic leadership requires lots of different qualities and skills. The following traits could see you succeed as a strategic leader:

  • honesty
  • diplomacy
  • perception of a bigger picture
  • compassion
  • reliability
  • the ability to delegate
  • loyalty
  • capacity to keep up to date
  • understanding of how to use your power wisely
  • articulation
  • self-awareness and the ability to practise self-control.

The benefits of strategic leadership

Strategic leadership offers several benefits. 

Strategic leadership provides an organisational perspective

Strategic leadership allows you to look at all the different components of the business and the relationship between them all. Then you can devise a strategy that benefits the whole business, not just one part of it. 

Strategic leadership creates a framework for making decisions

Strategic leadership sets out the organisation’s purpose, values, vision of the future, aims, potential threats to the organisation, and ways to capitalise on the business’s strengths. Directors and employees can make decisions in line with this framework.

Strategic leadership facilitates understanding and buy-in

Some people will want to know and understand everything before they support you and the vision. Strategic leadership allows people to understand the vision and its purposes and gives the management the chance to earn the full support of everyone in the organisation.

Strategic leadership challenges

Like any other form of leadership, strategic leadership isn’t plain sailing. Below we discuss five major challenges of strategic leadership and how you can address them.

Organisational change

Social media, artificial intelligence (AI), the Internet of Things (IoT), and other advances in technology have created an immense need for change. Generational attitudes and social ones have also changed.

The solution: You must embrace change and the full range of change strategies. In a constantly evolving environment, they must equip the business to be responsive and agile.


Employees could be disengaged. The organisation may be siloed. Researchers may be out of touch. The general focus may be lacking. None of these is good news for a strategic leader.

The solution: It is vital to recognise and identify innovation barriers when you come across them. You must develop new ventures within a business, regardless of the establishment of the business. Look for new ways to manage stakeholders, governance and funding, and for new approaches to decision-making. When strategising, you must balance flexibility and strength in the plan. 

Strategic influence

If you’re going to instigate change, you have to be able to influence strategically. Often, changes fail because the leader hasn’t convinced the key stakeholders to see the changes through.

The solution: Build a culture that encourages collaborative problem-solving and requires people to do the right thing. The organisation should be adaptable and clear obstacles so that issues can be addressed without any hindrance and without people wishing to claim any credit for their work. 

(Lack of) Resources

If you have several programmes running at the same time, you’ll have designated a lot of its resources already. If you still have some available, this could create conflicts between managers as they battle to claim them.

The solution: Start small. Meet initial aims first; then expand. Choose an implementation method that’s accessible, scalable, and which you can transfer throughout the organisation. 

Pressure to balance business performance with implementing change

Introducing change while keeping a business profitable is a tightrope and creates lots of challenges. 

The solution: Learn what other managers and employees know or don’t know already and then empower them. Entrust them with responsibility, but also prepare them for it. Work with them and provide feedback so they can succeed in their duties.

Strategic leadership provides clarity for everyone in your business or organisation. You’re all working towards achieving a vision while navigating an environment that changes constantly. Executing your strategy will require flexibility, openness to change, encouragement of teamwork, and the empowerment of employees to implement or adopt change while working towards the vision.

Train with In Professional Development

To sharpen up your strategic leadership skills or learn more about this style of leadership, enrol in our Strategic Leadership Masterclass. You’ll learn about self-leadership and team leadership so you can form your own strategic vision and plan and implement your own strategy.

To find out about the Strategic Leadership Masterclass or any of our other leadership courses, training programmes or workshops, send us an email at enquiries@inpd.co.uk, fill in our Contact Form or speak to us directly on 0161 532 7650. We’re here to guide you and support you.


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