“If you think you know something...


...then it is hard to be open to learning.”

Last month I posted about Dr. Max McKeown’s book, “The Innovator’s Book – Rules for Rebels, Mavericks and Innovators”. In the post, I highlighted a specific page that includes the title quote of this post. I believe it sets up this month’s topic quite nicely as we talk about Strategic Leadership. At the beginning of the calendar year, many businesses, for-profit and non-profit, large corporations and small privately-owned businesses are executing their strategic plans. As we begin yet another calendar/fiscal year, let’s explore what really goes into thinking strategically as a leader in the 21st Century dynamic business environment.

In the past few month’s I’ve given multiple speeches and presentations around these strategic leadership competencies as they are at the core of staying relevant and achieving sustainable success in their businesses. These competencies are based on the research of Kimberly Boal and Robert Hooijberg published in 2009. They suggested that the key competencies that feed strategic leadership effectiveness are; Management Wisdom (synthesize), the Capacity to Absorb (learn) and the Capacity to Change (adapt). Let’s explore each one in more detail.

  • Management Wisdom (Synthesize) ~ No matter what industry or market a business operates in, change in those industries and markets is the norm! It is not a function of “if” change will happen, it’s a matter of how fast it happens. Therefore, strategic leaders always have an eye on the external environment to see how things are changing. They routinely use tools like the PESTEL Analysis and the SWOT Synthesis as well as information provided by trusted sources such as their industry associations to help determine their next move in staying relevant. Effective strategic leaders know this is paramount to sustainable success!
  • The Capacity to Absorb (Learn) ~ Knowing what is happening in one’s business environment means little if leaders cannot learn! History is replete with business failures where the business leaders simply chose to ignore what they saw and maintained the status quo based on what they already knew. The ability to challenge and change one’s beliefs in the face of new industry and market information is crucial to sustainable success. As Alvin Toffler, the author and futurist, said, “The illiterate of the 21st Century will not be the ones who cannot read or write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn and relearn.” Effective strategic leaders are continuous learners!
  • The Capacity to Change (Adapt) ~ Learning new skills to maintain relevance in a dynamic business environment means little if those skills are not applied and exercised! It is why leadership training cannot produce effective leaders without complementary leadership development. An abundance of content without applying the content within the context of the business Vision and Strategy is merely a slow path to irrelevance! General Eric Shinsecki said it best when he said, “If you dislike change, you’re going to dislike irrelevance even less.” Effective strategic leaders know adaptability is the only way to stay relevant!

Sustainable organizational effectiveness is impossible to achieve if the organization’s leaders cannot (or will not) lead strategically! Too much time spent in the day-to-day operations and the Management Wisdom diminishes significantly. If too much time is spent planning and learning about change without active adaption, the business is left behind in their respective markets and industries. Charles Darwin once stated, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” Applying all three strategic leadership skills ensures the business achieves sustainable success!

How are you applying new learning to keep your business relevant?

Lead Well!

The Innovator’s Book

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Sunday, 21 April 2024