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Published on October 29, 2020

What Is Strategic Leadership And How to Be a Strategic Leader

What Is Strategic Leadership And How to Be a Strategic Leader

The year 2020 is shifting the platelets of corporate culture and bringing us into a chaotic twister of forced renovation. Daily, we are spinning on our heads and left wondering which side is up. But what if we had the opportunity to gain a new perspective—or, more specifically, a new strategic leadership model?

Not all of us are apt to welcome this chaos into our lives and adapt to the shifting winds that bear down upon our organizational structures. Some of us prefer the familiar and would rather fight against the shifting gusts. However, the only way to fight the wind and the waves is to raise the sails and create strategies that move us forward.

If you want to progress and succeed in 2020, you have to relent and raise your sails—you have to operate from strategic leadership.

This article will give you the tools that you need to implement strategic leadership and progress your company through the storms of uncertainty. Let’s get you started with some practical tips.

What Is Strategic Leadership?

Strategic leadership is one of the most popular styles of leadership right now. It’s a model that has been proven successful for the vast majority of departments and business genres. However, it’s not always the easiest to implement.

To be a strategic leader, you need to operate from an open-minded perspective. You need to lean into the evolutionary shifts within your business and allow the ebbs and flows to influence your trajectory. This type of leadership might look chaotic to the outside eye. But flexibility is imperative because it is the only way to sustain the twists and turns in business.

Think about it: your business started with a plan. However, if you want to succeed and reach your fiscal goals for the year, you need to learn how to color outside the lines.

It’s useful for all corporations to implement strategic leadership. Still, it’s not the most comfortable for all business leaders, especially type-A or those who prefer a micromanagement leadership style.

Strategic leadership is a powerful tool, but you have to be willing to embrace the wind and the waves as part of your journey and get a bit messy. This leadership model is not a simple formula. There isn’t a how-to model that you can follow from A-Z. However, it is one of the only strategies that work, especially in 2020.

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Case Study of Strategic Leadership

There are numerous examples of strategic leadership, but let’s focus on two corporations that understand how to leverage their storms and create powerful strategies:

Google

According to CNBC,[1]

“Google employees can continue to work from home until July 2021, making it the first major tech company to extend its remote-work arrangement into next summer in response to the global coronavirus pandemic.”

Google is not just a tech company—it is a culture. When you think of this top-level corporation, you think of quidditch tournaments, yoga studios, sleeping pods, and coffee bars. In short, you think of Disney World with Millennial techies.

But this year, Google went beyond its branding. It chose to look at the statistics, adapt its company policies, and pivot its goals to benefit its employees. When Google decided to extend its remote-work option through 2021, it became a company about people, not just a product.

Amazon

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, has allowed chaos to lead him to innovative ideas since inception.

When Amazon first started, it sold books and had a limited online presence. However, it has become one of the biggest competitors. This shift in popularity did not happen haphazardly. If anything, Amazon became a top-level competitor because Jeff Bezos became a top-level strategic leader.

Bezos created a company that worked because he took the time to see what was amiss. He took the time to pause, evaluate what needed to change, and then collaborated with the right people to move forward.

For example, Amazon not only expanded its inventory, but it also limited its carbon footprint. According to Politico,[2]

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“Amazon invested $700 million in the electric vehicle company.”

In many ways, Amazon progressed because Bezos’ strategy reflected societal values and environmental perspectives. They grew more powerful and influential because of Bezos’ strategic leadership.

Why Is Strategic Leadership Important?

Strategic leadership is imperative to understand because it is one of the only models that resonate with Millennials and Generation Z. There are numerous leadership styles, but most younger generations value this model because it emphasizes collaboration, inclusivity, and diversity within the workplace.

Strategic leadership is about creating a culture of influence without developing a mindset of absolutes. Now, not all leadership styles operate from a lateral style or a Post-Enlightenment philosophy. But they all place a high value on universal ownership above the hierarchical influence.

There are many styles of the strategic leadership model. Here are three of the main structures.

Types of Strategic Leadership

Strategic leadership includes three 3 subsets, which are “authoritative, participatory, and delegative.”[3]

Authoritative leadership is one of the most popular forms of managerial styles within many business structures. However, this leadership style is one of the most contentious because it’s popularity is colored by generational preference.

Baby Boomers and Generation X respond well to authoritative leadership because they grew up with the ideology of paying one’s dues, climbing the corporate ladder, and working within a hierarchical framework. However, the same cannot be said of Millennials and Generation Z.

Younger generations view leadership from more of a lateral perspective. This is why the majority of them prefer the participative structure of leadership.

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Delegative leadership spans generational partiality and works well for the vast majority of employees. This style encourages participation, but it still heavily places the responsibility of leadership upon upper management.

How to Be a Strategic Leader

Right now, you have millions of employees who are talented and ready to further your mission. However, to get the best from your team, you have to become a leader—more importantly, a strategic leader.

Here are some tips that you can implement now!

1. Embrace the Pause Button

We all remember fire drills when we were kids. Stop, drop, and roll. Even then, we realized the power of pausing before taking action. The same is valid for business. If we want to further our company, we need to stop old habits, drop our insecurities, and roll with the punches.

Embracing the pause button is one of the most important aspects of strategic leadership because it protects us from making decisions based on assumptions. When we take the time to be still, we can see everything from various perspectives and measure what is working and what needs to be changed.

When you embrace the pause button, you give yourself time to form the correct response and collaborate with the right people. However, if you rush in without stopping, you run the risk of creating action without purpose.

Business needs to be measurable for it to be successful. When you embrace the pause button, you react with an innovative response; instead of an assumptive reaction.

2. Acknowledge Your Own Implicit Bias

Strategic leadership is more than creating the right structure. It also means developing the right mindset and acknowledging your own implicit biases and potential cognitive biases.

Introspection is imperative for strategic leadership. But it can’t stop at awareness. If you want to develop a cognitively diversified, inclusive, and equitable company, you must go beyond understanding and adopt accountability.

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Strategic leaders embrace awareness, invite others to measure their progress, and invite their team to provide feedback.

Understanding yourself and your biases might not seem profitable to your bottom line, but when you take the time to learn what needs to shift in your own life, you understand what needs to change in your business.

3. Embrace Progress, Not Perfection

If you’re waiting to be perfect, you’ll never progress. Your company and your employees are not looking for you to know all the answers. If anything, they’re waiting for you to invite them to be a part of the solution.

There is only one qualification if you want to be a strategic leader: you have to be human.

Your team understands that you will make mistakes and create a few messes along the journey. Leadership is difficult. But anything worth it usually takes work.

Strategic leadership requires you to step away from the sidelines and get in the game. When you trudge through the mud and embrace moments of messiness, you invite your team to see you as a partner, not a performer. It’s not about being perfect. You will mess up. However, if you’re willing to aim for progress, you’ll move your company forward.

If you want your business to get to the next level, you can’t waste time agonizing over every single aspect of each decision. Strategic leadership requires you to implement strategies that work—even if they’re not perfect.

Final Thoughts

Today, a vast number of employees want to work for companies with a compelling mission. They want to utilize their talents and creativity within the workforce. However, to create companies conducive to employee expectations, business executives need to become strategic leaders.

If you want to succeed in 2020, take time to pause, fail forward, and take time to understand your own implicit biases. Step out of past stagnancy, step into a present-day strategy, and become a strategic leader.

Featured photo credit: Austin Distel via unsplash.com

Reference

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Dr. Colleen Batchelder

Diversity and Inclusion Strategist and Consultant | Exectutive Coach | Dr. Batchelder teaches business leaders how to create corporations where Millennials want to work.

What Is Strategic Leadership And How to Be a Strategic Leader

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Last Updated on November 5, 2020

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. A rut can manifest as a productivity vacuum and be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. Is it possible to learn how to get out of a rut?

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, or a student, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on Small Tasks

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks that have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate positive momentum, which I bring forward to my work.

If you have a large long-term goal you can’t wait to get started on, break it down into smaller objectives first. This will help each piece feel manageable and help you feel like you’re moving closer to your goal.

You can learn more about goals vs objectives here.

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2. Take a Break From Your Work Desk

When you want to learn how to get out of a rut, get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the bathroom, walk around the office, or go out and get a snack. According to research, your productivity is best when you work for 50 minutes to an hour and then take a 15-20 minute break[1].

Your mind may be too bogged down and will need some airing. By walking away from your computer, you may create extra space for new ideas that were hiding behind high stress levels.

3. Upgrade Yourself

Take the down time to upgrade your knowledge and skills. Go to a seminar, read up on a subject of interest, or start learning a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college[2]. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a Friend

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while. Relying on a support system is a great way to work on self-care when you’re learning how to get out of a rut.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget About Trying to Be Perfect

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies. Perfectionism can lead you to fear failure, which can ultimate hinder you even more if you’re trying to find motivation to work on something new.

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If you allow your perfectionism to fade, soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come, and then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

Learn more about How Not to Let Perfectionism Secretly Screw You Up.

6. Paint a Vision to Work Towards

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the ultimate goal or vision you have for your life?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action. You can use the power of visualization or even create a vision board if you like to have something to physically remind you of your goals.

7. Read a Book (or Blog)

The things we read are like food for our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great material.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. You can also stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs and follow writers who inspire and motivate you. Find something that interests you and start reading.

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8. Have a Quick Nap

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep[3].

Try a nap if you want to get out of a rut

    One Harvard study found that “whether they took long naps or short naps, participants showed significant improvement on three of the four tests in the study’s cognitive-assessment battery”[4].

    9. Remember Why You Are Doing This

    Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

    What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall your inspiration, and perhaps even journal about it to make it feel more tangible.

    10. Find Some Competition

    When we are learning how to get out of a rut, there’s nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

    Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, and networking conventions can all inspire you to get a move on. However, don’t let this throw you back into your perfectionist tendencies or low self-esteem.

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    11. Go Exercise

    Since you are not making headway at work, you might as well spend the time getting into shape and increasing dopamine levels. Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, or whatever type of exercise helps you start to feel better.

    As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

    If you need ideas for a quick workout, check out the video below:

    12. Take a Few Vacation Days

    If you are stuck in a rut, it’s usually a sign that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

    Beyond the quick tips above, arrange one or two days to take off from work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax, do your favorite activities, and spend time with family members. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

    Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest.

    More Tips to Help You Get out of a Rut

    Featured photo credit: Ashkan Forouzani via unsplash.com

    Reference

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