While a leader with strong operational skills may be enough to help a company maintain the status quo, strategic leaders with the know-how, experience and confidence required to tackle the “wicked problems” are necessary in times of transformation, says an article from PwC’s strategy+business.
Among the authors’ tips for developing and retaining strategic leaders:
Distribute responsibility. Top leaders should push power downward, across the organization, empowering people at all levels to make decisions. This gives potential strategic leaders the opportunity to see what happens when they take risks. It also increases the collective intelligence, adaptability and resilience of the organization over time.
Be honest and open about information. Releasing information only to specific individuals on a need-to-know basis leaves people making decisions in the dark. Since they can’t see the big picture, they have to guess which factors are significant to the business strategy. The lack of information undermines their confidence in challenging a leader or proposing new ideas.
Make it safe to fail. Strategic leaders cannot learn from success alone; they need to recognize the types of failures that turn into successes. They also need to learn how to manage the tensions associated with uncertainty and to recover from failure and try again.
Develop opportunities for experience-based learning. Although traditional leadership training can develop good managerial skills, strategists need experience to live up to their potential. Consider a cross-functional “practice field” that brings together a team of potential strategic leaders with a collective assignment: creating a fully developed solution to a problem or designing a new critical capability and the way to generate it.
See the full article, “10 Principles of Strategic Leadership.”