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Implementing Strategy: The Leadership Strategy

April 11, 2014 By: azjogger Category: Marketing & Sales

From Center for Creative Leadership (CCL), Leading Effectively

What’s your strategic leadership challenge?

Are you responsible for leading product development? Growing market share? Replacing legacy systems?

Do you find yourself competing with other senior leaders and priorities, wondering how to forward the long-term health of the organization?

If so, take some guidance from CCL’s Leading Strategically program.

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Leading Strategically isn’t about the process of setting strategy. It’s about what comes next: What do I need to pay attention to? How do I implement? How do I orchestrate the various efforts and tactics into a strategic whole? How do I contribute to organizational leadership?

A New Approach

The Leading Strategically program is about the strategic leadership mindset. It brings together solid thinking and cutting-edge practices — and participants apply the knowledge to their personal strategic leadership challenge.

Participants examine the core skills of strategic thinking, strategic acting and strategic influencing. They look at issues that typically challenge senior leaders — leading change, shaping culture, leveraging polarities and spanning boundaries — and ways to manage them.

The program includes a self-assessment, an intensive business simulation and time to practice new skills and work through participants’ specific challenges. Participants also work with a CCL executive coach during and after the program week and have access to a cloud-based toolkit for follow-up learning.

The simulation is especially powerful and practical, according to Rich Tallman, portfolio manager of the CCL program.

“In the simulation, managers have the opportunity to set the priorities for the organization and see the results of their decision. In the next round, they can try out new information or a different approach,” Tallman says. “At each stage, they learn a new element of the strategic mindset and then work though how it applies to their personal strategic challenge.”

The program also bridges individual and organizational leadership, notes CCL’s David Dinwoodie, a Leading Strategically trainer and a co-author of the new book Becoming a Strategic Leader: Your Role in Your Organization’s Enduring Success.

“Two things happen in parallel. On the individual level, the experience is focused on you, your competencies and working on that personal leadership challenge,” Dinwoodie explains. “But we also work on how to build strategic thinking, acting and influencing as a leadership team. As participants work with 23 other people in the program, they address the collective skills and organizational culture needed to lead strategically and create high-performing organizations.”

Results That Matter

Recent Leading Strategically participants made their shift to the strategic mindset in various ways.

Tim Cannon, marketing director — Barefoot Wine and Bubbly, EJ Gallo Winery, gained a new perspective for leading change in his organization: “The program helped me better understand myself as a leader and how to utilize practical tools such as leveraging polarities and spanning organizational boundaries to drive true change.”

“Coming into the class, I was very narrow in my thinking around my strategic challenge, but by the end of the week it became much broader in scope,” said Ed Miller, divisional vice president for a major financial services company. “Although there were many takeaways, I will be focusing on developing and using strategic influence in helping others to become more strategic throughout our organization.”

“For me, the biggest “a-ha” was realizing the even though we, as a senior leadership team for Kao, are very good at communicating our corporate message throughout the organization, we can use some simple strategies to make sure that everyone not only knows our strategies but lives them,” said Pamela McNamara, vice president, Sales — Salon US, Kao Group. “By having the entire team fully embrace their part of the puzzle, we will have more motivated team members.”

“In the program and in every organization, each person has something they are trying to advance and move forward,” says CCL’s Tallman. “Learning to view a project or initiative strategically increases their ability to succeed. CCL’s framework offers a concrete approach and specific tools to make it happen.”

Find out more about the strategic leadership mindset in a related article in this issue: Strategy Know-how vs. Strategic Leadership.

Asking for Success

Asking the right questions — and returning to them to re-evaluate the answers and unearth new insights — is one way effective leaders align and execute strategy. Participants in CCL’s Leading Strategically program learn to ask a number of key questions, including:

  • What are the two or three key drivers where we should invest our resources, time and energy?
  • Do we have business strategies that are aligned with our key drivers?
  • Do we have the organizational capabilities that enable us to execute the business strategies?
  • Do we have good processes and dialogue for dealing with conflicting priorities?
  • Are we paying attention to the cognitive and emotional dimensions of leading change?

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