Leadership strategies are those actions that promote the creation of a unique and valuable market position through a system of activities that complement one another towards achieving the end goal. Often seen as a collection of informed choices, trade-offs and deliberate deviations from the norm, leadership strategies help determine where the opportunities lie and what you can do to best exploit them.
In many cases, leadership strategies are the groundwork for a company's strategic plan and must therefore remain at the forefront when setting organizational goals. But as addressed in Strategic Leadership for Executives, there are two primary branches of leadership - analytical and human - that serve as a framework for operational approach. And the choice of analytical over human is often the result of an individual's personal strengths and weaknesses in the multi-layered aspects of business.
Matching strategy with personality
Strategic leadership is often practiced by those who run large companies, managing thousands or hundreds of thousands of people throughout an extensive organization. To accomplish this task effectively, the leader must possess a refined set of skills geared toward achieving the end goal. And while it's not necessary that he or she possess all traits, most will find a high degree of competence and comfort in the areas in which they naturally excel.
Consider the following traits and their respective leadership strategies.
Visioning and the autocrat
The term visioning refers to the initial spark of an idea, the moment that represents the start of any strategic plan. Once the leader has outlined strategic goals, all members of the organization must work toward those goals, using all possible influence and resources to accomplish the changes necessary to support the larger plan. And though a leader's strategic plan is often unique, it must also be relatable enough and have enough internal and external support to enable those who follow to think along the same lines. Without commitment, success is unlikely.
Visioning is a common trait to most high-level executives, but some are not able to achieve as much success with it in comparison to others - in particular, the autocrat.
The autocrat manages by telling people what to do and when to do it. Often referred to as a "micro-manager," the autocrat possesses little confidence in subordinates and may even distrust them. In select instances, such as military or law enforcement applications, this approach may actually save lives and therefore serves as the best leadership strategy. However, in the corporate world, this managerial style is often viewed as stifling and almost always fails to entice the commitment required to achieve the optimal levels of creativity and innovation. Within this system, employees are unable to make decisions on their own, preventing not only their personal growth but also the sharing of valuable insight and creative ideas. As a result, an autocrat's visioning typically produces little more than a high rate of employee turnover.
The benevolent autocrat who employs 'command and control'
Command and control sounds like a tactic the autocrat would employ... and even enjoy. But it actually has little to do with micro-management and more to do with fostering an environment that provides the necessities that allow the organization to achieve its goals. Focused heavily on creativity and innovation, command and control establishes a framework for achieving goals and then creates organizational networks that elicit the best from its people.
Within this framework, the benevolent autocrat succeeds, primarily because they're the driving force behind this particular employee-driven brand of corporate culture. The benevolent autocrat is typically someone who prefers to function as a coach or mentor to subordinates and frequently disseminates tasks to a wide range of people to maximize the organization's talent. This individual makes important decisions then works toward convincing subordinates to go along, a process that has been shown to build an organic level of commitment at all levels of a company. Though the benevolent autocrat will often use rewards to motivate personnel, he or she may also use punishment, a practice that is viewed as counterintuitive to modern strategic leadership.