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What is Leadership Anyway?

Aug 25, 2015 10:57 AM
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Successful business strategy development and deployment requires exceptional leadership.

Leadership takes vision and abstract thinking, judgment, confidence to challenge the status quo, courage to take on an ambiguous future, remarkable persistence to maintain focus despite day-to-day demands, the ability to foster trust, bring people together and to drive forward action, despite obstacles.

According to Forbes, $70 Billion is spent by corporate America on learning and development,  with 35% of that, or $24.5B, directed to leadership development.

It’s likely that there’s some value received.  However, it’s not clear how these leadership traits can be taught and what’s often missing is the bridge from the learning back into practical application at the office.

CEOs who engage their employees from executive to mid-level management to front line management in the strategic planning process, provide this bridge between learning and application.

They understand that the strategic planning process provides the best opportunity for real leadership development as it provides invaluable opportunities for development of critical thinking, role modelling and mentorship in the areas of leadership that you can’t teach.

In many organizations, business strategy is formulated by senior business people behind closed doors with a few other key executives, with little opportunity for involvement of other members of the management team.

The next stage growth of these organizations is actually limited until a “leadership” culture is developed. Business strategy fails when “leaders” aren’t leaders at all. Positional power is often used to force change or conserve old roles and methods; either way, breeding fear, operational complexity and a dysfunctional culture.

CEOs who drive the strategic planning process systematically, year over year, and engage their people in the process, actually institutionalize a culture of leadership throughout their organizations, and they are successful in deploying strategy as a result.

It is remarkable to watch executive leaders develop more leadership as the strategy process engages middle and front line management in aspects of planning and eventual transformation of their departments contributing, as a team, to the vision and strategic plan.

Communication opens up, thinking is elevated, and management teams find their way to sharing perspectives and engaging their people in taking action on what they really think needs to be done.

The strategic planning process also clarifies leadership structure within the management team as executive roles are aligned to drive strategic objectives, and so on.

"Return on Investment" in leadership development occurs with experience in the strategy development and deployment process of the organization.

With this view, leadership certainly starts at the top; but engaging people through the strategic planning system is a sure way to ensure leadership doesn’t stay in the c-suite.

Are you concerned about your upcoming strategic planning initiative?

Contact who will be glad to discuss how you can ensure your next strategic planning process stays on track.

Joanne Downey

Throughout her extensive 25 year career, Ms. Downey has provided tangible value to CEO/Chairman/Executive Teams throughout the entire management structure of Global, Fortune 500 and leading companies. .


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