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What is Strategic Leadership?

What is Strategic Leadership?

Strategic leadership is a gutsy style of leadership and entails lots of challenges, but it also offers immense benefits, including cooperation and clarity in how the business or organisation operates.

Before implementing a strategic plan, we’d suggest working thoroughly on your leadership skills to put yourself in a firm position to succeed. In this post, we provide you with insight into what strategic leadership is, before discussing the advantages and disadvantages of this inspirational leadership style.

Strategic leadership is a leadership style in which the leader expresses a vision for a business or organisation, or for parts of it, and motivates others to join them in bringing this vision to life. 

A strategic leader needs to be an effective communicator, forward-thinking, and willing to challenge the status quo. They must be organised and also able to unify people. If you possess these qualities, you’re in a good position to succeed as a strategic leader.

The advantages of strategic leadership

When you implement it correctly, this style of leadership can drive your company forward. Below, we’ve set out some of the main advantages of strategic leadership.

‘Bigger picture’ perspective 

In the hectic world of management, it’s easy for daily activities to draw directors and managers in so much that they don’t plan for the future. Strategic leadership steps back from ‘busy’ and allows directors and managers to see how their everyday activities they perform link up to the future. 

Task clarity

Strategic leadership brings clarity to tasks. Sometimes, employees may perform a task without understanding what the real purpose of that task is. Under this style of leadership, they see how the work they’re doing helps the company move closer towards the overall vision. Some would argue that strategic leadership creates not just clarity, but also a purpose. 

Creation of a clear framework

Strategic leadership doesn’t just provide clarity in tasks; it also establishes a clear framework for decision-making. The vision serves as a compass that guides strategic decision-making and keeps everyone on the same page. Will a decision take the company a step closer to the vision? That’s the question to ask and answer.

Development of commitment

Strategic leaders encourage commitment from employees and build it by walking the walk themselves. They know leading by example will persuade employees to embrace certain traits to accomplish objectives. By exemplifying their commitment to the business’s objectives, a strategic leader is serving as a role model for everyone else. 

Support of unity

Strategic leadership facilitates unity and prompts employees to buy into the vision. This reduces the chances of conflict and increases teamwork between departments. Instead of being siloed, departments work together and strive towards meeting the overall objectives of the company.

Disadvantages of strategic leadership

Of course, this leadership style also has its cons. Let’s have a look below:


This is no easy style of leadership. Strategic leaders must look at all the parts of the business as a whole and how they work together. They must control resources strategically, think about outside and inside environments and about long-term and short-term goals. It will take time and patience to get a sense of the bigger picture, develop a strategy, and implement it. 

Failure to address the present

Strategic leadership looks way ahead into the future, and leaders care about the impact of the events that happen in the here and now in terms of how they will affect the future. If they’re not careful, however, they can develop tunnel vision, focusing on the future and forgetting about the present. This may blind them to issues in the present that don’t relate to the overall aims. Someone still needs to deal with these.

Potential inflexibility

Strategic leadership means implementing a strategic plan across the organisation. If there’s a problem, however, or there’s a change in the strategy, the action to take can affect the work of a whole department. A strategic leader must be able to put a strong but flexible strategy in place that causes minimal disruption.

Restrictive of growth

Strategic leadership calls for an immense character, but the visionary element of this style infuses it with a hint of idealism that could make the leader too willing to take risks that could damage the organisation. At the opposite end of the scale, however, a strategic leader could be too conservative and take too few calculated risks, which could slow down growth or see major opportunities go begging. 

Potentially expensive

It will take time and resources to implement the plan, but if the strategic plan goes wrong, the fallout could be costly. A failure could lead to layoffs, the cancellation of projects, or even the removal of a whole department. An organisation could pay a high price for the failure of this leadership style.

Book a leadership course with us

To learn more about this highly challenging style of leadership, book a place on our 1-day Strategic Leadership Masterclass or our 5-day Strategic Leadership Programme. You can also consider our CMI Level 7 Senior Leadership Programme, which provides powerful insight into this type of leadership.

Book directly on the Course Page itself or contact us for more information. We’re available at enquiries@inpd.co.uk, through the form on our Contact Page or 0161 826 3139. We’re here to support you on your professional development journey and will be happy to advise you on the most suitable course(s) for you.


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