Many new leaders; whether in their leadership roles for the first time or leading a new venture resulting from a merger or acquisition, want to bring strategic management to their leadership roles. Unfortunately few are successful in bringing a strategic approach or mindset much less strategic leadership and strategic management.
Based on my decades of examining work environments as if I am a Scientist, I’ve developed a proven method that allows leaders to provide strategic leadership and strategic management from Day 1. These methods provide a level of effectiveness and builds a solid foundation for success for the entire organization as well as every single employee, regardless of their role or level of authority.
This method is especially critical in today’s environment. Because of the compensation in certain sectors of the tech industry and because of the ages and levels of maturity of so many technologists who have morphed into leadership roles, we have a lack of strategic leadership and strategic management in so many companies like Uber, Zenefits, and ZocDoc. In my opinion, we are at a critical stage of development as a society. Will we tolerate the 1950s Mad Men approach to business that has now emerged in 2017 thanks to these companies or will we build solid, financially sustainable, mature business models based on transparency, inclusiveness and aligning employees with the Vision/Mission/Purpose as well as the required behavioral standards.
Here’s The Halpin Companies’ approach to strategic leadership and strategic management:
- Create a meaningful, purposeful Vision and Mission. We believe there is so much bad behavior in the workplace; self-interested actions, bullies, favoritism, lack of honesty and authenticity, frat-house sexual harassment and worse because leaders have not invested the time to craft truly meaningful Visions for their ventures. If the Vision is big enough and compelling enough, people will put away their childish, immature behavior and buy-in to playing a bigger, more compelling game. It’s that simple.
- Establish corporate-wide, well thought out, documented Values for the organization. Without values clarification and development in a thoughtful, inclusive manner, decisions will be inconsistent and appear erratic, leadership will not be held accountable to a principled approach and employees, customers, vendors and suppliers will not have an understanding of that the company stands for.
- Ground everyone in the Current Reality. Dr. Martin Luther King, in his I have a Dream Speech, never failed to paint the picture of his vision for the future. However, he never failed to remind his audiences of the high cost of the current reality. When we are not grounded in the current reality, our Vision feels like pie in the sky. More importantly, without the facts and without daily and weekly metrics, leaders can be allowed to languish, to remain in denial and to even become delusional about the high cost of toxic situations. We must gain buy-in for the corporate values while making it fun and energizing to demonstrate those values. Since what gets measured, gets managed, we also must validate and report our adherence to these values and the behaviors that demonstrate that everyone believes in our corporate values and is ‘walking their talk’ on a day-to-day basis within the workplace.
- Build in ‘Reserves of Time’ to Think Strategically. If a project or initiative is going to fail or not meet the forecasted expectations, we believe there are red flags and key indicators, years and months in advance. Why do we not pick up on these key indicators? What gets in the way of our ability to connect the dots in advance of a problem or failure? If I am rushing from meeting to meeting all day, with zero time to download my to-do list and commitments or organize and plan my calendar, we simply will not have the time to think strategically. When we do have a moment to catch our breath before a meeting gets started our intuition will often alert us. We’ll start to ask ourselves questions. “I wonder what Bob meant by that comment?” “I’m curious to find out more about what Janet mentioned just as we were finishing working through our Agenda in that last meeting”. “I’m concerned that Betty Sue may be overly optimistic about turning this project around in such a short amount of time”. All of these are red flags but if we don’t have even a moment to ponder, we cannot pick up on these intuitive hunches, much less follow-up with others to delve deeper into these concerns.
- Reserves of Time to Act Strategically. If we, again, are over-booked we will be forced to remain in a reactive mindset dealing with one operational fire drill after another. This sets up our actions to be focused on today. In order to build organizations on a solid foundation of strategic leadership and strategic management, we must align our activities with our values, our strategic initiatives and our long-term goals. We simply cannot act strategically without the reserve of time to think strategically. Action follows thoughts. We can’t catch ourselves and coach ourselves if we are frenetic or frazzled.
Give yourself the gift of reflecting on these 5 approaches. Your colleagues will be grateful. More importantly, you will establish a foundation on which to grow your company exponentially.
About Katharine Halpin
Katharine Halpin has been facilitating C-level transitions and corporate transactions since 1995 when she left her CPA career to fill a void she had seen everyday. With a narrow focus on legal and financial aspects only, organizations need leaders who can provide both strategic leadership and strategic management. Katharine founded The Halpin Companies to help fill this void and close, the Growth Gaps™, those things that stand in the way of accelerated corporate growth.