Strategic thinking is traditionally held in the domain of organizational leaders who have the primary responsibility for developing and implementing the strategic plan. While differing perspectives on strategic thinking may continue to be debated in the literature, the importance of effective strategic thinking and leadership going hand in hand is inarguable.
Leaders must set the tone for learning and development among all constituents and embed strategic competence into the organizational infrastructure or risk falling behind its competitors. A leader must be able to negotiate the intellectual capital lever effectively to increase valuation of its more ‘traditional’ perspective of its assets. When considering strategic thinking within a definition of intuitive and creative contribution, emphasis is naturally shifted to encouraging this type of thinking throughout all levels of the organization.
A firm’s strategy is its theory of how to compete successfully. In this sense, a firm’s strategic thinking and leadership is all about its best understanding about what the critical economic processes in an industry or market are and how it can take advantage of these economic processes to enhance its performance. Organizations – whether for-profit or not – are competing in an unpredictable and volatile marketplace that demands a greater capacity for innovative and diverse strategic thinking in order to create and sustain advantage. Libraries face competition for the time and attention of the customer or the user. They also face a somewhat unknown future given the changes in resources and technologies and a crowded information marketplace.
Even the best strategy can nose-dive if a company doesn’t have a unit of leaders with the right competencies across the right layers of the organization. When it comes time to execute a strategy, many companies find themselves thwarted at the point of implementation. Having identified the prospects within their reach, they watch as the outcomes fall short of their objectives. Poor asset configuration coupled with mismatched capabilities, and inadequate execution can all come together in undermining a corporation’s strategic thinking and leadership.
Although well-regarded corporations tend to keep these pitfalls squarely in their perspectives, in practical experience far fewer companies identify the leadership capacity that new strategies will demand, let alone treat leadership as the preliminary point of strategy. This oversight sentences many such endeavors to distress.
Strategic thinking and leadership do not come easily in most organizations. Statistics indicate that fewer than 9-10% of leaders exhibit strategic skills, a disappointingly laughable number considering the demands on corporations today. Strategic skills aren’t only for growth; tough times with tight resources call for better resource allocation. Leaders throughout organizations face insurmountable pressures to get short-term numbers and exhibit immediate victories.
Strategic leaders act in ways that bridge the gaps in maintaining a seamless balance between triumph in daily tasks as well as long term mandates. They smoothen out other’s strategic movements, too, by providing a balance of direction and self-governance, and rewarding appropriate risk-taking. Eventually, strategic thinking and leadership are both an organizational as well as a personal course, and it is one that present day’s businesses cannot afford to disregard. Strategic leaders are a must throughout corporations if they are to be able to innovate, adapt and prosper well into the future.