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Leading with Strategic Thinking: Four Ways Effective Leaders Gain Insight, Drive Change, and Get Results by Aaron K. Olson, B. Keith Simerson

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2The Four Types of Strategic Leadership

The information we present in Chapter 1 suggests that strategic leadership involves two key activities: strategy formation and strategy execution. In the former, you address issues pertaining to needs, expectations, requirements, choices, trade-offs, positioning, and competitive advantage. We call the output of this activity “strategic insight.” In the latter, you garner buy-in and commitment, and bolster contribution and advocacy through effective communication, incentives, and controls. We call the output of this activity “strategic change.”

Fundamental Questions for the Strategic Leader

When considering how one leads, you can frame many of the fundamental issues using two simple questions:

  • How will you gain strategic insight?
  • How will you drive strategic change?

Critically, the answer to both of these questions comes before the work of strategy formation and strategy execution begins. This occurs explicitly, through conscious choice, or implicitly, through the leader's actions. We believe strongly that the more effective leader is conscious of the questions and their implications, and we will use this chapter to explore each question and the choices that they present.

Strategy Formation: Planned versus Emergent

When deciding how to gain strategic insight that will inform a resulting strategy, a leader faces two options. In the extremes, the activity will be “planned,” well defined, and determined through a preset and well-structured ...

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