How to Build A Powerful Leadership Strategy

By Sean Stevenson – Latest Revision January 3rd, 2021

Building a powerful leadership strategy can have a huge impact on any organization.

Every organization depends upon its leadership to guide them through prosperous and difficult times.  Often, regardless of circumstance, this requires careful planning and bold action. 

In today’s hyper-competitive business landscape, there is evidence to suggest that many organizations are failing to keep up with new trends.  Moreover, organizational planning has diminished in several key areas.  This has dire consequences for the foreseeable future. 

Failure to adapt to change is a prelude to collapse.  It is an inevitability that those who fail to cultivate a cohesive leadership strategy for their business will ultimately fail.

Building a powerful leadership strategy has never been more important.  In an uncertain climate, it falls to the leadership of an organization to prepare for any outcome. 

By carefully cultivating a strategic mindset, you can actively adapt to any economy. 

Building a powerful leadership strategy is not difficult.  It simply takes time and careful consideration.

However, it can easily mean the difference between the success or failure of your business.

In this article I will define effective leadership strategy.  Then, I will delve into methods, tips, and actions, so that you can develop your own powerful leadership strategies for use in any enterprise.  

Defining A Leadership Strategy

A leadership strategy is a plan that outlines key objectives, investments, and goals for an organization.  Mapping out these details can take time.  The important takeaway is that you are actively planning for the future of your business.  Moreover, you are taking into consideration how you can best improve performance.

This strategy should be more than just an outline.  It should actively detail how you are going to accomplish your goals.

Think of the resources and people you will require to fulfill your actions.  Are these available if you were to start immediately?

Why A Leadership Strategy Is Important

Everyone is aware that proper planning is key to the success of any endeavour.  The actual process of enacting that planning, is something often left on the backburner.

It is quite common for a business to make plans and lists, without ever acting on them.  The process of taking a plan and putting it into motion is far more difficult.  This leads to a disconnect that can loop infinitely.  Nothing is getting done.

This is why a leadership strategy is so vital.  It details how everything will be accomplished, down to the methods, people, and resources used.

However, while some progress can certainly be made without a template, it is often helpful to have one nonetheless.  To further develop your leadership plan, it is advisable to use a distinct method.  Such as the one detailed below. 

The S.W.O.T Method

An excellent process for considering all aspects of your leadership strategy is known as S.W.O.T analysis.  This acronym stands for strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. 

We will explore S.W.O.T in greater detail momentarily.  For now, consider the following in your leadership strategy.  How would you rate your organization in terms of:

Be sure to include any other considerations that you deem relevant to the success or failure of your organization. 

These topics should give you an idea of where you stand.  This will allow you to paint a clearer picture for yourself and others going forward.

Avoiding pitfalls is something that every leadership strategy must include.  Try to understand the weaknesses and strengths of your business.  Are there places of vulnerability?  What strengths do you have at your disposal?  Have you found opportunities for expansion?  Or do threats linger on the horizon?

By looking at the scope of details from end to end, you can get a better sense of the direction you should be headed towards. 

If suppliers are proving troublesome, perhaps vertical integration is the answer?  In a competitive market, would a more aggressive and focused campaign be a possible solution?  By brainstorming elements of your business and possible counterpoints to them, you can gain a greater understanding of how to best navigate your own circumstances.

This is the essence of planning a leadership and business strategy.  By gathering information and carefully considering your prospects, you will be in a much stronger position.

Using The S.W.O.T Method

All of these aspects can be fully explored using the aforementioned S.W.O.T method.  Without further ado, here is a S.W.O.T rubric for your reference:

As you can see, each section is left open for you to fill.  Listing your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, will give you a go-to analysis of where you stand. 

It’s a great way to devise and continually update your business position using clear-cut terminology. 

Before going further, take the time to write out some words for each aspect of your S.W.O.T analysis.  Try to come up with conclusions for what each strength, weakness, opportunity, or threat might mean. 

Once you have created your own personal S.W.O.T analysis, you must now meet with your team to discuss these topics in detail.

Create a Meeting For S.W.O.T Analysis

Be prepared to discuss your findings thoroughly.  Any stakeholders or close mentors should be present also. 

During this meeting, ask everyone for their perspectives.  Drive home the idea that you want to strategically grow your company and improve existing processes.

Have everyone participate in analyzing your first attempt at a S.W.O.T analysis.  Ideally, have a large video screen for everyone to share.

The first thing you will notice, is that everyone has their own ideas.  Your team may end up disagreeing or even tinkering with your first analysis.  This is perfectly normal.  S.W.O.T is meant to be malleable and easy to change, so don’t sweat it.

If it takes hours to go through each category, then take the time.  This will allow you to deeply consider each aspect as a team.

By the end of this process, you should have an agreed upon S.W.O.T analysis that covers each category.  Think of this as a powerful list that details your entire organization’s structure.

Gaining Perspective

Now that you have a consensus on each of the categories, it is now time to brainstorm solutions to key problems.  Have everyone write down their own ideas, and then share it with the group.

To keep things from getting out of hand, it is advisable that everyone keep their ideas to a few words maximum.  Anything over three sentences should be considered pushing it. 

The ideas is to gain clarity.

During this phase, you may find new weaknesses, threats, or opportunities emerge from the discussion.  These should be added to the S.W.O.T analysis in time.  However, for now, simply write them down for later use.

Once you have heard from everyone about possible solutions to your company’s weaknesses, it is time to pause and consider.  Everyone will likely be leaning towards only a few select answers that were provided.  These represent the best of your pooled answers.

As a leader, you must guide your team towards an optimal solution.  Be sure to keep an open mind.  Only choose the absolute best vision for the future of your company.

Ending The Meeting

Once all considerations have been laid to rest and agreements decided upon, you may end the meeting.

At this point, you should have answers to all outstanding problems.  Or, at the least, you should have an idea of where to obtain information to get answers for anything that was not complete.

Be sure to use actionable solutions as quickly as possible.  These can make a huge difference for your organization in a relatively short period of time.

If further meetings are required, schedule them accordingly within a week.  Do not wait too long to do so.  You want everyone to remain fresh and engaged in the S.W.O.T process.

S.W.O.T As A Method

The most excellent aspect of S.W.O.T is that it is easily repeatable.  It is also often highly actionable. 

This makes it desirable for any kind of organization.  The only limitations are the creativity and passions of your team.  Be sure to use it continuously, as it can always offer further improvements.

A Second Method: Key Drivers

To further develop your leadership strategy, it is highly recommended to identify the key drivers of your organization.

Key drivers are the 3-5 aspects of sustaining a competitive advantage.  Depending on your industry, this can vary greatly.

However, key drivers themselves are not a method of planning.  They are more of a detailed description that allow leaders to make better decisions.

A simple example of a key driver would be customer satisfaction.  For a cab company, customer satisfaction would certainly rank as a key driver.  Without it, their business would fail.

A way of determining the key drivers of your own business is by asking a series of questions:

The implications of key drivers should be immediately apparent.  They are integral for your organization.

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How To Use Key Drivers

After determining your key drivers, you can now develop a more advanced leadership strategy.  This will allow you to prioritize your focus.  Moreover, you can also pinpoint chief concerns that must be addressed immediately.

If your business must continue driving customer satisfaction, then your leadership strategy will reflect this.  For example:

It should be noted that these examples are very basic in nature.  A more realistic take on the implications of key drivers would involve the complex issues surrounding them.

While it is never an entirely simple matter, the value of key drivers is obvious.  They represent the clearest considerations of what drives an organization to succeed. 

Key drivers can be thought of as the elements operating behind the scenes that make an organization’s success possible.  They should always be carefully studied and improved upon.  The strategies enacted towards key drivers are what will determine the outcome.

An important role of the leadership is to engage with, and influence others to rally around a shared vision.  Once you have your leadership strategy outlined, remember to diffuse key points of information to others.  While discretion is always advised in certain instances, there is no harm in letting employees gain some insight.

Leadership Strategy – A Conclusion

Developing viable leadership strategies is integral to the success of any organization.  The skills needed to implement effective business planning requires dedicated effort. 

Above are two detailed methods of strategizing your own leadership.

By using these processes, you will be positioning yourself for success.  Moreover, you will be opening a venue for developing effective leadership in others. 

By sharing information and supporting effective implementation of continuous improvement, you will be well on your way to establishing a culture of strategic advancement.

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