After reading this chapter you should be able to:☑discuss the nature of strategy, and its relationship to leadership☑understand the role of leaders in setting strategic focus and direction☑appreciate the role of leaders in shaping values and cultures☑recognize the importance of managing corporate reputation and image.
This chapter aims to encourage you to reflect on the role of the leader in setting direction and strategy. The focus here is not on the strategic planning process itself, but on influencing where the organization is going, and how it is going to get there. Against a backdrop of an understanding of the complex and dynamic nature of strategy, the process starts with the representation of direction in public statements of mission, vision and objectives. But this is only a beginning. Moving forward in the chosen direction, achieving and performing requires management of the implementation of strategy. Two key aspects of such implementation relate to the development and evolution of culture and values, and the management of a strong corporate reputation and images respectively.
Strategy and leadership
Leadership is concerned with influence. One of the key roles of leaders is to create, share and communicate vision. One of the main differentiators between a manager and a leader is that the leader is externally focused, has vision, and looks to the future. This means that leadership is incontestably associated with direction, and strategy, since strategy is concerned with establishing and sharing long term direction. On the other hand the link to management cannot be severed, because strategy is not only developing plans, but making them happen, and that involves resources and their management.
In today's’ dynamic environment strategy making is an ongoing process that engages not only top management, but also managers, team leaders and other staff. Leaders need the capacity and the context to allow them to think, plan and act strategically. The wider and ambitious policy agendas to which information organizations are being expected to respond demand visionary leadership, informed decision making, and dynamic strategy-making processes.
This chapter commences with an exploration of the nature of strategy. Johnson and Scholes provide a useful definition: ‘Strategy is the direction and scope of an organisation over the long term which achieves advantage for the organisation through its configuration of resources within a changing environment and to fulfil stakeholder expectations’ (2002, 10).