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Five Practices to Enhance Your Strategic Leadership


Linda Wilkinson | March 25, 2015

Have you ever wondered how to be a more strategic leader? That’s the topic that speakers Dave Whittington and Tammy Dewar covered at the PD session at the Matrix Hotel on March 19, 2015. Since this husband/wife team usually spends a day or more teaching strategic leadership practices, we got the “firehose approach” over the lunch hour. Still, it was an engaging and informative hour that covered these five practices to help you lead more strategically:

1. Ground Yourself

Be clear about who you are, what your values are and where your strengths lie. And learn how to manage your own anxiety before trying to lead others.

  • Some practical ways to cope with anxiety in uncertain circumstances:
  • Breathe and remain open (check out Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk to better understand the science behind poses that can change how you feel about yourself)
  • Experiment with silence
  • Track your inner dialogue and negative predictions
  • Let go of what you can’t control
  • Get people moving
  • State the obvious

2. Make Sense of Complexity

Use the tool below to assess the type of problem you are facing to discover the best solution.

Cynefin _framework

Until recently, leaders were dealing with problems as if it were simple or complicated. In the case of simple issues, best practices are followed; in the case of complicated issues, good practice is followed. However, in the 21st century, strategic leaders realize more and more organizational problems are complex and chaotic. When a problem is complex, leaders allow patterns to emerge and then determine what the best route is. In a chaotic situation, the response needs to be quick and innovative, such as Mayor Rudy Giuliani's quick response during 9/11. 

3. Envision and Inspire Strategic Direction

Engage and inspire multiple stakeholders – C-suite, directors, managers, team leads and worker bees – with passion and enthusiasm. It’s important that all stakeholders understand the organization’s strategic direction. When the process seems overwhelming, it’s important to start with the first step; each subsequent step will become apparent.

4. Cultivate a Learning Culture

Replace judgement with curiosity and look for innovative ways to learn and adapt. We looked at types of teams: the Ideal Team and Actual Team. With the Ideal Team, when there is failure, gossip and illness increases while morale, communication and productivity decreases. The result is judgement, and the leader asks, “What’s good? What’s bad? Who’s to blame?

With the Ideal Team, there’s acceptance, curiousity, compassion and humour. The result is learning, and the leader asks, “What can we learn?”

5. Model the Way

Live your values, even when this means standing back from your ego and not taking the short-term gain. Leaders don’t need to be right in the short term. It’s more important create good will for the long term, even if that involves asking for forgiveness or offering forgiveness in order to move on.

If you want to learn more about enhancing your strategic leadership, visit calliopelearning.com to view the presentation. 

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