While developing a great strategy for your business is admirable, providing the right leadership makes all the difference between success and failure. Far too often, the majority of an organization’s effort goes into creating and implementing an innovative strategy only to see it flounder from the lack of effective leadership – particularly at senior levels.
Over the past couple of months, I’ve been working with a group of CEOs from allied companies wanting to better align their business strategies, standards of practice and resource utilization for the benefit of both members and shareholders. Conversations to date have leaned heavily towards the technical aspects with some reluctance to openly discuss the leadership behaviours needed to craft and implement a new integrated vision and strategic direction.
For many leaders, it’s far more comfortable and often less ‘messy’ to focus on the technical nuances of a particular strategy rather than engaging in meaningful dialogue on the behaviour changes required both individually and collectively to develop and execute a new way forward. Research and experience show, however, that leadership behaviour is just as critical, or maybe more so, to success.
So, what leadership behaviours need to be ‘in play’ to ensure success during the creation and implementation of strategy? Here are some key foundational behaviours that support success:
Informing Your Strategy Creation
- Take a Broad Perspective – take the ‘big picture’ view and consider what’s good for the whole; suspend your personal agenda; declare competing interests.
- Be Open and Receptive – hear people out and don’t cast immediate judgment; encourage diversity of thought and differing views; value others’ viewpoints and opinions; allow your own perspective to shift.
- Be Inquisitive – actively question and challenge key assumptions; strive for clarity; seek and share relevant information.
- Create Safety – create suitable ground rules and boundaries for reflection, conversation, evaluation and feedback.
- Act Courageously – be real and authentic in the moment; self-declare when appropriate; demonstrate the ability to say no.
- Demonstrate Commitment – be prepared by doing the required homework; stay focused and engaged; deal with ambiguity and manage your personal frustration; act on follow-up commitments.
Facilitating Strategy Implementation
- Show Integrity – ‘walk the talk;’ clearly demonstrate behavioural expectations; call others on inappropriate behavior.
- Demonstrate Ownership – demonstrate energy and passion for the strategy; communicate purpose and intention; commit appropriate resources; hold yourself and others accountable for results.
- Be Decisive – make decisions based on best available information; make difficult calls when required; stick with your decisions.
- Provide Support – create clarity; check in with others and hold meaningful conversations; provide ongoing guidance and real-time coaching; provide meaningful and timely feedback.
- Demonstrate Adaptability – evaluate actions against strategy; obtain feedback regarding progress; adjust course of action as appropriate.
- Maintain Focus – be persistent and stay the course; focus on key priorities; become more intentional about your time.
Demonstrating the right leadership behaviours during strategy creation and implementation is crucial to the longer-term success of your chosen direction. As part of your direction-setting conversations, ensure you encourage dialogue that focuses specifically on desired leadership behaviours.