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Great leaders are judged as much by what they leave behind as by what they achieve during their tenure. This means having in place a high-performing 1 team, a thinking organisation and managers and employees at all levels passionately committed to getting things done.
In this context, this study identifies the direct and indirect pathways to strategic leadership practices from the literature, with an empirical survey of the top listed South African organisations of in order to ascertain how these antecedents influence the success of these organisations. Govern ment, the private and public sectors view the capacity to implement strategic leadership as a crucial initiative towards the future success of South Africa.
On a practical level, business leaders need guidelines to identify and overcome obstacles that stand in the way of strategic leadership practices.
The stratified systems theory of Jacobs and Jaques classifies the performance requirements for leaders in organisations as direct, general and strategic. Distinct elements define the leadership environment within each level. Unmistakable differences among the three levels include complexity, time horizons and focus see Guillot, Most leaders spend their careers leading at the direct or tactical level.
In this environment, the leader interacts directly with the same people every day by maintaining a direct span of control.
Illustrating the Differences between Leadership Levels
The time horizon is very short normally less than one year. At the direct level of leadership, communications generally occur with the same organisation and focus exclusively on the internal audience. Because business leaders spend more time at this level than any other, it becomes familiar and comfortable Guillot, Some business leaders however, will mature and move to the general or operational level, where perfor mance requirements begin to change.
From the perspective of budding strategic leaders, performance requirements for the strategic level change the most and are least familiar. It is important for those leaders to use integrative thinking as the challenges are great, the stakes are high and the performance requirements are stringent. It is therefore very important to convince South African business leaders to use their integrative thinking to comply with the stringent performance requirements in our business organisations and country.
The impetus and importance for the research can be divided into three main areas: Leaders should give direction to every part of the organisation from the corporate office to the loading dock. Strategic leadership is therefore the ability of the leaders to create and recreate reasons for the organisation's continued existence. The leader must have the ability to keep one eye on how the organisation is currently adding value and the other eye on changes, both inside and outside the organisation, that either threaten its position or present some new opportunity for adding value Montgomery, They suggested that effective strategic leaders must create and maintain absorptive and adaptive capacity in addition to obtaining managerial wisdom.
Absorptive capacity involves the ability to learn by recognising new information, assimilating it and applying it in a disciplined manner. Adaptive capacity involves the ability to change due to variations and conditions. People at 'the top' of the organisation, normally in executive leadership positions, have tended to control over strategic processes. They have tended to make decisions, crate policies, and inform people who report to them about the tasks and objectives that must be fulfilled.
In essence, they have exercised 'power over others' as the main means of getting things done. In the process they have often become alienated from the realities of operational demands and challenges. To compete, survive and perform in a highly competitive environment, an organisa tion's strategy must be aligned with that of its environment and at the same time the organisation must have the capabilities that fit its strategy.
To accomplish this alignment, leaders have to be open to learning about how their decisions and behaviours fit the environment, strategy and organisation. This suggests that effective leaders enable their organisations to confront the tensions that prevent alignment and, through a collaborative process, reshape align ment at several levels: One of the main reasons for this is the lack of an integrated approach that changes multiple dimensions of the organisational system, particularly key organisational capabi lities and leadership behaviour.
Porter confirms the viewpoints above, stating that understanding the forces that shape industry competition is the starting point for developing strategy. Every organisation should already know what the average profitability of its industry is and how it has changed over time.
Most importantly, an understanding of industry structure guides leaders towards fruitful possibilities for strategic action, which may include any or all of the following: The best strategies exploit more than one of these possibilities Porter, As the best practices and new competencies start to become entrenched, the organisation and its people become increasingly ready to make a quantum shift that is capable of transforming the organisation.
This is the step where it becomes possible to expect and demand the wide-spread execution of strategic leadership and competitiveness practices, and to require leaders across all levels to live the values that accompany this shift.
In change leadership terms, it is the time when it is both possible and desirable to increase the pressure to practice the strategic leadership requirements Rowe, By this stage all policies and procedures, as well as practices that contribute to organisational development and culture, should be aligned to the shift towards good strategic leadership practices see Figure 1.
Montgomery further stated that it is the responsibility of the executive leadership to formulate a challenging view of the future, providing the organisation with a clear idea of where threats could come from and how the organisation is positioning itself to cope with them. Having some certainty, amidst the uncertainty of the future, is crucial.
Illustrating the Differences between Leadership Levels | xraydelta
While endless scanning and assessing of all factors cannot pre-empt future threats completely, all employees in the organisation have to know that there is a plan to cope with some eventualities.
The 'what' of strategy will always come top down, so it is the execution that is different in future organisations. Organisations can all go about their business brainstorming and creating something they call strategy, but the institutional capacities and capabilities of driving it through onto ground level is a totally different challenge.
In the past leadership was clear - they knew who the leader was and who the followers were.
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In future, the leader sometimes needs to be a follower. To be a true high performer, an organisation must survive and thrive across economic and market disruptions. To measure the performance of organisations, it is important not to only use a single measurement, but to use different dimensions.
Army Leadership Field Manualthe Center for Army Leadership delineates leadership skills and attributes at three levels: Direct, Organizational, and Strategic. Direct Leadership is characterized by face-to-face interactions with a handful of people, such as project team members, up to several hundred people, such as the staff of a large department or a manufacturing site.
Organizational Leadership influences many more people — several hundred to several thousand — but mostly indirectly, through what I term one and two-removed relationships a one-removed influence relationship is one where I direct a person who does the actual hands-on work; a two-removed situation is one where the person doing the work is directed by someone who I direct.
It is also concerned much more with cross-cutting processes and systems as well as policy development. Strategic Leadership often encompasses hundreds of thousands of people and might affect millions more in the case of a leader of a political movement, for example, or a military governor, such as General MacArthur in post-war Japan.
This is not to suggest that the three levels of the Field Manual are the only or best taxonomies for leadership, but merely that it is an example that an organization has applied, with some success, in the real world. Other notable thinkers, such as Elliot Jaques, have taken this thinking even further, in books such as Requisite Organization Since a great deal of practical learning occurs on-the-job, a direct leader who does not possess the requisite competency in the essentials of their craft or profession cannot properly coach, correct or instruct their staff or team members.
This concept applies to everything from the foreman of a construction crew who does not know how to properly use a radial saw or how to correctly grout tile, to the production manager at a bread plant who does not understand baking science, to the continuous improvement professional who does not know how to properly map a business process.
For example, a partner in an accounting firm might not ordinarily have to get into the details of a client case, but must maintain their knowledge and skills with respect to the relevant tax laws and accounting standards. Given that organizational leaders must get things done through others, it is not surprising that a key technical skill is determining what kinds of resources are required to achieve organizational goals, and then having the skills to identify and acquire them, including the inter-related skills of planning, budgeting, lobbying and deploying.
Typically, a major aspect of this level of leadership is ensuring that the right people are recruited, developed, progressed, and retained. The ability to envision and predict 2nd and 3rd-order effects refers to the skill to think in terms of a wide range of intended and unintended consequences, often far removed in time and place from the initial action.