6Developing Strategic Leadership

The genesis of this book was our experience coaching and teaching leaders to be more strategic. Between the two of us, we have spent over 35 years working with organizations and individuals to help them be more effective. We have spent a combined 15 years in the classroom teaching graduate students to understand and apply the concepts of strategy. In 2008, we created a class at Northwestern University called “Leading with Strategic Thinking,” in response to alumni who wished there had been more content on the fundamentals of business strategy in their master's programs. A few years into that class, we started discussing the ideas that became this book. The title of the class came to embody what we saw as a real need for many leaders and organizations: an appreciation of how to better apply a combination of strategic thinking and leadership. Leadership consistently differentiates the performance of individuals who stand out from their peers and achieve extraordinary results. Likewise, leadership has a greater impact when it is applied strategically—focused on the right priorities and applied in suitable ways.

We have been in countless conversations in which the lack of strategic thinking is lamented. We've spoken with CEOs who have asked us to help executives who were struggling to meet changing expectations. We've advised teams who weren't productive in their time spent together. We've helped leaders who have started a new role with a mandate ...

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