Strategic thinking and leadership have been one of the most fundamental tools that direct and propel the vision of most contemporary organizations. Moreover, they are critical components in enhancing growth and success. Notably, strategic leadership fosters growth and success in an organization due to the fact that leaders are able to meet the set objectives with effective management.
Therefore, organizations need strategic actions and decisions in order to overcome prevailing challenges. According to Hamel and Prahald’s model of strategic intent, strategic leadership and thinking assist in developing capabilities and empowering organizations. It is against this backdrop that this paper examines strategic leadership and thinking in relation to innovation using specific cases from British Airways.
A brief overview of leadership and leadership strategies
It is notable that leadership is the process of influencing other people’s values, attitude and behavioral patterns. Consequently, this brings about strategic change which is a vital component for growth and success in an organization. Notably, strategic leadership is a multifunctional component that is critical in improving organizational management. Credible evidence has revealed that lack of strategic leadership in organizations increases the vulnerability towards failure.
Development and implementation of strategies
This is a process that entails creating a purpose and meaning for operations meant to achieve the organizational mission and goals. For this process to be effective, there is need for leaders to apply critical components such as ethics, strategic control and sustainable corporate culture. Additionally, there are other elements that are crucial in developing and implementing strategies. These have been explored below.
Exploiting core competencies
It is worth to mention that leaders should exploit key competencies in organizations such as decision making in order to leverage, strengthen, maintain and develop their individual capabilities. In addition, competencies can entail skills, finances, marketing strategies as well as production of goods and services. In order to exploit such competencies, there is need to put in place strategic leadership that will ensure that a firm produces quality products and services. Besides, strategic leadership should focus on exploiting and sharing competencies that are intangible such as skills and knowledge across the various units of an organization.
Developing human capital
Developing human capital is one of the tools used by multinational companies to improve the working relations while increasing productivity and profitability in organizations. This entails guarding workers from vacating their jobs due to dissatisfaction. For instance, British Airways has used this technique to improve skills and retain its workers. It is also important to note that developing human capital makes a firm to enjoy high performance levels. This should be the major aim of strategic leadership.
Notably, developing human capital positions a firm far above its competitors, a factor that can be achieved by establishing development and training programs. These programs create social cohesion, build skills, inculcate values and improve communication. In addition, these programs are effective tools that leaders can use to develop human capital since they improve and equip the workforce with additional abilities. Needless to say, British Airways use such programs to amplify the workers’ skills to international level making them remain creative and innovative to handle numerous working situations.
Sustaining a corporate culture that is effective
Corporate culture entails all the core values that are common to all workers and which reflect how organizational operations are conducted. Strategic leadership should aim at developing and sustaining an appropriate corporate culture to enhance production of valuable products and services. Moreover, it should encourage strategic actions, entrepreneurial spirit and innovation to foster long term vision.
Notably, strategic leadership should strive to help members realize the essence of positive cultural changes in order to achieve organizational goals. Nevertheless, the aspect of maintaining a corporate culture has remained contentious due to lack of critical aspects and clear outlines. Therefore, strategic leadership should provide incentives that match with a firm’s goals in order to inculcate a positive culture. Moreover, leaders should be able to evaluate and analyze the proposed impacts that occur due to cultural changes.
Determining strategic direction
It is apparent that one of the key aims of strategic thinking and leadership is to determine the strategic direction through which the visions of organizations are realized. Strategic direction enables an organization to leverage on its capabilities, resources and core competencies in order to realize attainable goals as well as remain competitive in the marketing field. Essentially, workers need to develop strategic direction that acts as a base for their commitments and personal efforts. This gives them a specific performance criterion such as planning and thereby making them emerge competitive. Needless to say, most companies such as British Airways, Toyota, Microsoft and Xerox use strategic direction to achieve their long term goals.
Emphasizing ethical practices
Strategic thinking and leadership should emphasize on ethical practices that are geared towards guiding workers in relation to the corporate culture in an organization. Ethical practices should be used to control and shape behavior. In any case, such practices have been proved to be crucial in fostering organizational growth bearing in mind that they play a remarkable role in achieving strategic goals in organizations.
Establishing strategic control
This is an important element that governs strategic actions and outcomes of business operations. Notably, leaders should practice strategic control in order to balance performance and the desired results. Lack of strategic control causes failure in organizations since leaders are not able to match their operations with prevailing economic conditions.
Strategic processes and involvement of workers
It is imperative to note that strategic processes involves high level of decision making and it is crucial in determining the functions of a firm. These processes need intellectual capabilities by the organizational leadership. In most cases, information can be derived from external sources that will help in boosting the credibility and relevance of decisions made. However, this process cannot be complete without the use of skills and expertise.
In addition, strategic leadership and thinking has revolutionized a strategy whereby employees are involved in stabilizing information systems. Previously, only the executives were involved in decision making. Currently, strategic leadership and thinking incorporates the whole entity in an organization, a factor that makes it easier to achieve goals. There has been a strategic move to evade risks associated with poor decision making while improving the future operations of a firm.
Involving employees in decision making processes
It is imperative to note that involving employees in decision making is one of the strategic processes that create attachment and boost their identity in an organization. Moreover, this reduces the tendency of making decisions that are goal-specific without considering the needs of all workers. Therefore, strategic leaders should allow workers to take part in decision-making. Note that a company like British Airways maintains a centralized hierarchy in its management but it highly encourages departmental level of making decisions. This makes workers to be responsible and prepares them to be future leaders. In line with this, organizations should encourage frequent communication to brief workers about the ongoing events, a factor that encourages flexibility and quick responses.
Notably, strategic leadership, innovation and change are the most reliable means through which responsiveness and progress in production can be realized. Moreover, strategic leadership acts as a force that reenergizes workers, refreshes an organization’s system and improves it to a higher level. Therefore, without strategic leadership, it becomes cumbersome to achieve productive and profitable change in an organization. In most cases, changes and innovation act as major tools that propel an organization to achieve its strategic goals and succeed in the sustainability mission.
Therefore, these tools boost the efficiency of service and product delivery. In line with this, strategic thinking and leadership should aim at creating change and innovations that act as outsets for improvement in organizations. However, it is worth to note that this should be based on internal and external orientations. In his model of organizational change, Kurt Lewin indicated that there is need to cite the need for change (refreezing) before shifting to seek change in an organization. Under this model, it becomes clear that both the internal consideration and external factors demand key changes after which they refreeze in readiness for implementation. Besides, it reflects the connection that exists between strategic leadership, change management and innovation.
Concerning the issue of strategic thinking and leadership, it is recommended that the efficiency of management should be based on change and progress. Moreover, leadership strategies should aim at stimulating innovation and adopt new corporate culture in order to realize profitable changes. In line with this, companies should embrace hierarchal organization where employees are given an opportunity to take part in decision making. Additionally, workers should be empowered by increasing their autonomy, a factor that will boost their capacity.
In line with this, there should be a system of enhancing accountability in order to reduce the costs and increase the value of goods and services. Essentially, the structure should be assimilated in all means to bring about positive impacts on the team operations in all levels of the organization. This strategy will enhance the ability of leaders and workers to consult and come up with decisions mostly from departmental and sub-departmental sections in a company. Though this model has been widely criticized, it has brought strong positive results that have contributed to the present high levels of profitability in British airways
To reiterate on the above, it is apparent that strategic thinking and leadership are fundamental elements which provide an organization with direction and vision. In this case, developing strategies requires managers to employ strong systems of control in order to enhance objectivity in organizations. Besides this, managing change and being innovative are crucial components of strategic leadership that are used in restructuring organizational operations. Therefore, it is recommended that organizations’ leadership and managements should ensure that the need for change is well communicated. Moreover, strategic thinking and leadership should aim at developing human capital and promoting collective participation in all levels of an organization.