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The Center for Creative Leadership Handbook of Leadership Development, Third Edition by Marian N. Ruderman, Ellen Van Velsor, Cynthia D. McCauley

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Chapter 11. Developing Strategic Leadership

Katherine Colarelli Beatty

Bruce Byington

Many leaders receive feedback that they need to be more strategic. However, when they ask what specifically it means to be "more strategic," they commonly get back an unsatisfying, ambiguous response. Typically the field of leader development addresses the question of how to be more strategic in terms of leadership competencies or in terms of following a set of procedures related to strategic planning. But any competency can become obsolete as the environment changes, and strategic leadership is not about a set of planning exercises conducted on semiannual retreats. Competencies and procedures are important, but it is more important to view strategy as a collective, continuous learning process that engages both individuals and the organization as a collective to think, act, and influence others in ways that promote enduring direction, alignment, and commitment (DAC).

The greatest challenge to being more strategic is that it requires organizations and their leaders to execute on priorities in a disciplined way and at the same time to be open to change. Strategic leadership both effectively positions the business to meet today's needs and anticipates tomorrow's challenges. This suggests that leaders expand the idea of strategy to include continual collective learning. Ultimately this kind of leadership results in DAC. With this in mind, we define strategic leadership as follows: individuals and collectives ...

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