10 Principles of Strategic Leadership

Most companies have leaders with the strong operational skills needed to maintain the status quo. But they face a critical deficit: They lack people in positions of power with the know-how, experience, and confidence required to tackle what management scientists call “wicked problems.” Such problems can’t be solved by a single command, they have causes that seem incomprehensible and solutions that seem uncertain, and they often require companies to transform the way they do business.

Fortunately, companies can build the capacity for strategic leadership. It starts with recognizing that your organization undoubtedly already has emerging strategic leaders within it whose skills are being overlooked or even stifled. The problem can be traced back to how organizations traditionally promote and develop their leaders. In many companies, the individuals who make their way to the top of the hierarchy do so by demonstrating superlative performance, persistent ambition, and the ability to solve the problems of the moment. These are valuable traits, but they are not the skills of a strategic leader.

The following 10 principles can help unlock the potential strategic leadership in your enterprise. These principles represent a combination of organizational systems and individual capabilities — the hardware and software of transformation. You may have already adopted some of these tenets, and think that’s enough. But only when you implement all of them together, as a single system, will they enable you to attract, develop, and retain the strategic leaders who’ve eluded you thus far.

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