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  • Lorea Lastiri

Mastering Leadership for Strategy Implementations (Must-Know Tips)

Updated: Jun 12, 2023


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In today’s rapidly changing business landscape, organizations face new challenges and concerns that require them to adapt and evolve.

The successful implementation of strategic initiatives plays a crucial role in navigating these changes and driving organizational growth.

As a leader, you must ensure that your team effectively rolls out and embraces these strategies. To achieve this, you need to be a master at implementing organizational strategic plans.

To master leadership implementation for corporate strategy success, you must practice discipline, build a capable implementation team, foster open communication, and take on more projects.

Whether you’re just starting your managerial journey or have years of experience under your belt, mastering the art of leadership implementation is essential for long-term success.

In this post, we’ll explore the importance of good leadership for implementing a strategic plan, the phases involved in successful leadership implementation, the types of leadership, and provide valuable tips for mastering leadership implementation.

Read on and unlock your potential to drive positive change within your organization.

Why is good leadership important for the implementation of a strategic plan?

Leadership skills play a crucial role in the implementation of a strategic plan. Without effective leadership, even the most well-crafted strategy may fail to achieve its intended objectives.

Good leadership provides direction, inspiration, and guidance to the team, ensuring that everyone is aligned and working towards the same goals. Leaders create a sense of purpose, instill confidence, and motivate their team members to give their best efforts.

Furthermore, leadership entails the ability to surface the need for change, suppress or remove barriers to change, and secure short-term wins.

These three objectives are done by:

  • Not suppressing internal conflict to enable key players to see the need for change.

  • Closely monitoring corporate noise levels. Corporate noise occurs when different parts of an organization are unable to resolve alignment issues between themselves and instead continually escalate these issues to senior management for resolution.

  • Facilitating realization of the need for change using influencing skills.

  • Being ready to present a plan of action for change quickly.

  • Effecting a major, highly visible action aimed at creating a sense of oneness/unity.

  • Establishing ways for easier communication/interaction between disparate groups.

  • Continually promoting a sense of corporate ownership.

  • Engendering strong buy-in by seeing through promised actions.

  • Identifying and quickly implementing high value-adding initiatives with short delivery time-frames to communicate intent and delivery focus.

  • Displaying strong energy and authority.

In addition, there is a need for a corporate support team. The general purpose of this corporate team is to foster synergies among the various business and support units.

The corporate team must find ways to enable these synergies among the business and support units.

Based on strategic direction, the corporate team might consider:

  • Reallocation of capital to strategic functions.

  • Enable resource sharing to create economies of scale.

  • Enable and encourage customer sharing to cross-sell products.

  • Support and fund knowledge sharing and best practices among business units.

  • Encourage and reward behaviors that support the strategy.

The role of leadership in strategic implementation

Leadership plays a critical role in successfully implementing strategic initiatives within an organization. As we mentioned, influential leaders provide the vision, direction, and guidance necessary to align teams and drive the execution of strategic plans.

Managers’ commitment and leadership levels and the roles that they can play are essential for the successful implementation of the strategic plan.

Here are some critical aspects of leadership in strategic implementation:

Create an implementation team

If an organization expects to execute strategy well, it must drive behavioral changes within the organization.

Building a solid team of leaders to communicate and champion the strategic plan is essential. Creating an implementation team could be one of the most challenging tasks for leaders in charge of strategic implementation. However, they are critical to the success of the strategy implementation.

A good team combines strategic vision with advocacy, communication and administrative skills to keep the process on track and aligned with the corporate strategy.

The number of full-time employees assigned to the corporate strategy team can vary by organization. It can range between 3 and 15 personnel, with an average of 7 employees.

Often referred to as “change agents” for executive leadership, the corporate strategy implementation team works behind the scenes as missionaries, consultants, point persons, and chiefs of staff. They shepherd the strategy from its development stage to sustainable execution.

The primary responsibilities of the corporate strategy team include:

  • Provide an integrated approach to strategic management that bridges traditional functional domains such as finance, planning, and performance measurement.

  • Ensures that the organization sustains its focus on strategy by integrating strategic focus concepts and principles.

  • Focus on integration of governance systems for strategy.

Unlike managing functional areas, managing strategy requires a different set of competencies.

The corporate strategy team generally serves as the custodian of cross-business processes needed to execute the strategy. They own or coordinate various steps in the strategic planning cycle, including:

  • Strategy development: The process to formulate and update strategy.

  • Strategy management: Design and report on objectives and measures.

  • Organization alignment: Ensure alignment of all organization levels with the strategy.

  • Planning & budgeting: Link to strategy.

  • Human capital alignment: Ensure alignment of each individual with the strategy.

  • Strategy communications: A comprehensive communication and education process focused on strategy.

  • Initiative management: Identify and oversee the management of strategic initiatives.

  • Strategy review process: Ensure the effectiveness of strategy review and learning meetings.

  • Best practice sharing: Facilitate processes to identify and share best practices.

Setting goals and communicating them to the staff

An early step in leadership implementation is to set clear and attainable goals for the new strategy. It is crucial to clearly know what you want to achieve to establish a solid implementation plan.

However, it is essential to avoid the common mistake of setting unrealistic goals that can lead to demotivation and burnout.

To set realistic goals:

  • Review the outcomes and performances of previous change initiatives.

  • Learn from both successes and failures to determine what is feasible within your timeframe and available resources.

By drawing insights from past experiences, you can define what success is for your team.

It is also important to account for variables hindering your team's ability to reach the goals and establish contingency plans. Anticipating potential challenges and being prepared for them increases the likelihood of successful implementation.

Once the goals are established, effective communication is critical.

Clearly articulate the goals to your staff, ensuring they understand the desired outcomes and their roles in achieving them. Provide context and explain the relevance of these goals to the overall strategy.

Encourage questions and feedback to foster a sense of ownership and alignment among the team members.

Regularly communicate progress updates, milestones, and any necessary adjustments to keep everyone informed and engaged.

By maintaining open lines of communication, you create transparency and promote a collaborative and supportive environment.

Give out assignments

After setting clear goals for the implementation process, the next step is giving assignments to the appropriate team members.

Determine who needs to do what and when by referring to the original timeline and goal list.

To guarantee successful implementation, it is critical to communicate the big picture to your team. Help your implementation team understand the company’s vision and how their specific responsibilities contribute to achieving it.

By providing context and aligning individual tasks with the overarching goals, you create a sense of purpose and motivation within the team.

When assigning tasks, consider each team member's strengths, skills, and expertise. Assign responsibilities that align with their abilities to maximize productivity and performance.

Distribute the workload evenly and be mindful of individual workloads to avoid overwhelming any team member.

As a leader, it is crucial to strike a balance between providing guidance and avoiding micromanagement. Trust your team members to execute their assigned tasks and provide support when needed.

Monitor the implementation process

In the real world, effective leaders understand that their team may face unexpected struggles, get off track, or make mistakes during the implementation process.

Leaders must actively monitor their teams’ progress and performance to address these challenges and ensure successful implementation.

Monitoring allows leaders to gather valuable information that can be used to identify issues, provide support, and increase team performance.

However, many organizations struggle with effective performance monitoring. To ensure that monitoring is not a weakness in your organization, here are some key aspects to focus on:

Determine your monitoring style

Leaders can adopt different monitoring styles based on the approach theu choose to apply.

Active management-by-exception involves micro-managing and closely monitoring every aspect of your teamwork. While passive management-by-exception takes a hands-off approach, only intervening when problems arise.

Active-constructive management is usually the most effective and involves regular check-ins, anticipating problems, and providing problem-based feedback.

This style allows leaders to stay engaged while empowering their teams.

Regular check-ins

Schedule regular check-ins with your team to gather updates on progress, address any challenges, and offer support.

These check-ins can include one-on-one meetings, team meetings, or brief daily huddles.

Regular communication helps keep everyone aligned, promotes accountability, and keeps leaders informed about the implementation process.

Anticipate problems

Actively anticipate potential roadblocks or challenges that may arise during the implementation process. This proactive approach enables leaders to be prepared and develop contingency plans to mitigate risks.

By being proactive, leaders can address issues before they become significant obstacles and keep the implementation on track.

Provide problem-based feedback

When monitoring, provide constructive feedback that helps team members overcome challenges and improve their performance.

Instead of solely pointing out mistakes, offer guidance, resources, and support to address areas of improvement.

Problem-based feedback should be specific, actionable, and aimed at helping your team grow and succeed.

Adjust and adapt

Effective monitoring requires flexibility and adaptability. As the implementation progresses, be open to adjusting plans, reallocating resources, or modifying strategies based on the information gathered through monitoring.

This flexibility allows leaders to address emerging issues and optimize the implementation process.

Provide performance reviews

Performance reviews are important for monitoring follower performance and facilitating skill development.

However, traditional performance evaluations often fail to improve performance due to their generic nature and lack of alignment with specific organizational and team goals.

To ensure that your performance reviews are effective and contribute to performance improvement, consider the following tips:

Involve the employees

Allow your teams to participate in the design of the performance evaluation process. When employees have a voice and feel their view are valued, they are more likely to perceive the ratings as fair.

Seek input from your team members on the evaluation criteria, methods, and areas of focus. This collaborative approach fosters a sense of ownership and engagement.

Identify specific areas of performance

Tailor the evaluation to assess specific performance areas relevant to your team’s goals. For example, consider evaluating abilities such as meeting deadlines, collaboration skills, or problem-solving capabilities.

Providing ratings in specific areas gives teams clear feedback on where they excel and areas that require improvement. It helps them understand the particular aspects of their performance that contribute to overall success.

Provide frequent informal feedback

Regularly communicate performance standards and expectations to your teams. Offer informal feedback and guidance on their performance throughout the year.

This approach ensures that performance evaluations do not contain any surprising information and helps teams stay on track.

Ideally, provide feedback after each task or project completion. If that is not feasible, aim for at least monthly feedback sessions to address progress and areas of improvement.

Avoid relying on memory for ratings

Our memories are subject to biases and influenced by various factors.

Keep a written track record or diary of your observations and thoughts about your teams’ performance to minimize unintentional biases.

Document specific instances, achievements, challenges, and areas for growth as they occur. This written record ensures that your ratings are based on objective observations rather than subjective recollections.

Link ratings to objective results

Focus on observable outcomes and link ratings to measurable results. When providing feedback, offer specific examples of instances where the employee's work met, exceeded, or fell short of expectations. Illustrate how their actions directly impact the overall success of the team or organization.

This approach helps teams understand the connection between their performance and tangible outcomes, enabling them to make targeted improvements.

Encourage staff members

Leaders should support and encourage their team members throughout the implementation process.

Recognising and celebrating successes and offering guidance during challenging times fosters a positive and motivated work environment.

Phases of a successful leadership implementation

A successful leadership implementation typically involves several phases contributing to its effectiveness. Here are the key phases of a successful leadership implementation:

Planning phase

This phase involves setting clear goals, defining the strategic direction, and outlining the steps required to achieve the desired outcomes. It includes getting your research team to conduct thorough research, analyze the internal and external environment, and develop a well-defined strategy.

Execution phase

The plans developed in the previous phase are put into action in this phase. It involves assigning tasks and responsibilities, allocating resources, and effectively coordinating and managing the implementation process.

Communication and collaboration among team members are essential during this phase.

Monitoring phase

Once the implementation is underway, monitoring progress and performance is crucial.

This phase involves tracking key performance indicators, assessing milestones, and identifying any deviations from the plan. Regular monitoring helps ensure the implementation stays on track and allows for timely adjustments.

Evaluation phase

The evaluation phase involves assessing the effectiveness of the implementation process and the achieved outcomes. It includes evaluating the results against the set goals, analyzing the implementation's strengths and weaknesses, and identifying improvement areas. Feedback from stakeholders and team members is valuable during this phase.

Adaptation phase

Based on the evaluation findings, adjustments and refinements are made to enhance the implementation.

This phase involves making necessary changes to the strategy, reallocating resources, and addressing any identified gaps or challenges. It allows for continuous improvement and adaptation to changing circumstances.

Sustaining phase

Once the initial implementation is completed, the focus shifts to sustaining the achieved results. This phase involves maintaining the momentum, reinforcing the changes, and embedding them into the organizational culture and processes.

You may provide ongoing support, training, and reinforcement activities to ensure long-term success.

Who is responsible for strategic leadership?

Strategic leadership is ultimately the responsibility of top-level executives, managers, and leaders within an organization. They are accountable for formulating and communicating the strategic vision, aligning resources, and guiding the implementation process.

A crucial aspect of strategic leadership is ensuring the entire team understands the strategy concept. Strategy involves moving from the current state to an unknown future state. The unknown future state implies new customers, products, attitudes, and culture in the organization.

Dr. Norton said: “Strategy is about taking an organisation from where it is today and taking it to someplace it has never been before; to do that, you have to execute change.”

Effective strategy management tools can facilitate this change, but it is essential to approach the transformation with a broader perspective and effective management.

Weaknesses within the leadership and ownership scope can hinder successful strategy execution. Some common weaknesses include:

  • Not initiating a change program with a sustained focus on day-to-day activities.

  • Insufficient employee engagement and support.

  • Lack of precise sequencing of activities based on corporate priorities, differentiating change activities from business-as-usual.

  • Inconsistency and lack of a systematic approach.

  • Failure to empower key individuals and trust them to lead change.

  • Neglecting the nurturing of future leaders and visionaries.

  • Absence of a platform to challenge and agree upon corporate priorities, accessible to all stakeholders.

  • Insufficient collaboration and cooperation among key staff.

  • Strategy not being the central agenda in reviews and meetings.

  • Poor appointment of a clear team or leader with primary responsibility for driving strategy execution.

  • Lack of regular communication on the benefits of the strategy.

  • Inability to anticipate behavioral changes.

  • Unclear roles and responsibilities in owning initiatives.

  • Lack of transparency and ineffective management of issues at appropriate levels.

Some organizations begin by creating awareness of the need for change. Sometimes this is obvious. If an organization is losing millions of dollars daily, it is evident that change is required.

In other cases, some organizations lead their industry, proactively anticipating industry shifts (like the impact of e-commerce or some other global change) and using strategic initiatives to propel the organization forward.

Strategy management is an ongoing, continuous process that requires leaders to think strategically, adapt the organizational culture, and act as facilitators, coaches, consultants, and consensus-builders.

Types of leadership

There are various types of leadership, each characterized by different approaches and behaviors. Here are some common types of leadership:

Transformational leadership

Bernard Bass describes transformational leadership as, “superior leadership performance that occurs when leaders broaden and elevate the interests of their employees when they generate awareness and acceptance of the purposes and mission of the group, and when they stir their employees to look beyond their own self-interest for the good of the group”.

Acquiring transformational leadership traits requires hard work and dedication, willingness to take some risks, and internalizing the organization’s vision and guiding principles.

During strategy development, having a leadership and ownership checklist designed to address the content, process, and impact of leadership and ownership during the strategy development and execution phase is a critical item.

During strategy development and execution, the following checklist can be helpful:

  • Powerful change management capabilities should be in place.

  • Having the consciousness of the need for change and a genuine desire to embrace it.

  • Commitment from key individuals who perceive change as a solution rather than a problem.

  • Adequate knowledge to address significant issues and drive change.

  • Identifying key stakeholders, sponsors, advocates, targets, and potential obstacles.

  • Preparation of specific change actions and detailed plans.

  • Implementation of a knowledge management model.

  • Leadership’s crucial role in cultural transformation.

  • The presence of a change and transformation manager within the organization.

  • Visual representation of relationships through a strategy map.

  • Transparency to reveal cause-and-effect relationships.

  • Timely provision of relevant financial and operational information to managers.

  • Cultivating a culture of transparency and knowledge management.

Authoritative leadership

Authoritative leadership is a leadership style characterised by a leader with a keen sense of purpose, confidence, and vision.

The authoritative leader drives strategy with vision and encourages team members to use their strengths to emerge as leaders. They give high-level direction but let those they lead figure out how to get there the best way.

Authoritative leaders always strive for advancement and motivate others to adopt a similar outlook.

Transactional leadership

Transactional leadership is characterised by its focus on rewards and punishments to motivate employees. The leader establishes clear goals and communicates the expected rewards for achieving them and the consequences for failing to meet them.

This leadership style is often task-oriented and ensures that basic expectations are met.

Democratic leadership

Democratic leaders involve their teams in decision-making processes. They value input, collaboration, and participation from their team. This leadership style promotes open communication, teamwork, and shared responsibility.

Employees who work for a democratic leader understand they are part of a larger team. They learn the importance of collaboration and realize they have a say in how their work evolves.

Democratic leaders encourage debate but can also step in when necessary and decide based on overall input.

Servant leadership

Servant leaders prioritize serving others, developing their team members, and fostering a supportive and inclusive environment.

By putting the team's needs ahead of their own, servant leaders create a culture of collaboration, growth, and fulfillment, leading to the overall success and happiness of the team and the organization.

Charismatic leadership

Charismatic leaders possess strong personality traits, confidence, and the ability to inspire and influence others. Their charm, vision, and persuasive communication skills often attract teams.

Charismatic leaders can significantly impact their teams’ attitudes and behaviors.

Empathetic leadership

Empathetic leadership is a leadership style that emphasises understanding, compassion, and building strong emotional connections with team members.

They understand that great work begins with engaged employees. This type of leader strives to forge strong emotional bonds within a team so those involved feel a sense of belonging.

The empathetic leader prioritises making teammates happy with them as a manager and with their team. The empathetic leader uses emotional intelligence to prioritize people over work.

Micromanagement is not a characteristic of empathetic leaders. They delegate authority to team members and serve as a resource whenever their team members require it. They are quick to offer praise and assistance when needed.

Laissez-faire leadership

Laissez-faire leaders adopt a hands-off approach, allowing their team members to make decisions and take responsibility for their work. They provide minimal guidance or supervision and give freedom to their teams to explore and innovate.

What type of leadership is more effective for strategic implementation

When it comes to effective strategic implementation, no one-size-fits-all leadership style guarantees success.

The most effective leadership approach depends on the specific situation, the needs of the team, and the organizational context.

However, being adaptable and incorporating different leadership styles as needed can enhance the effectiveness of strategic implementation.

A flexible and adaptable leader who can shift their style to match the situation is more likely to connect effectively with team members, guide them through challenges, and drive successful implementation outcomes.

Tips for mastering leadership implementation

Mastering leadership implementation requires skills, strategies, and continuous improvement. Here are some tips for mastering leadership implementation:

Practice discipline

Discipline is a crucial aspect of mastering leadership implementation.

People will evaluate your ability to lead by the amount of discipline you demonstrate at work. To achieve this, consistently meet deadlines, keep appointments, and end meetings on time.

If you are naturally disorganized, then begin with small steps. Try implementing good habits at home, like waking up early and exercising daily, and work your way up.

Build a capable implementation team

Select team members who possess the necessary skills for the successful execution of the strategy. Foster collaboration, provide support, and empower team members to take ownership of their responsibilities.

Foster open communication

Establish an open and transparent communication environment where team members can freely share ideas, concerns, and feedback. Encourage active listening and provide a platform for dialogue to facilitate problem-solving and innovation.

Take on more projects

Taking on more responsibility is an excellent way to master your leadership abilities for successful strategic implementations.

You don’t have to take on more than you can manage, but if you want to advance, you must do more than your job description requires.

Getting out of your comfort zone is the only way to learn new things, and doing so will make you stand out to executives as someone who takes the initiative.

Lead by example

Set a positive example with your actions and behaviors. Demonstrate integrity, accountability, and professionalism in all aspects of your work. Be accessible, approachable, and supportive to team members.

Adapt and be flexible

Recognize that change is inevitable during the implementation process. Be adaptable and open to adjusting plans and strategies as needed. Embrace new ideas and approaches that can enhance outcomes.

Provide continuous support and development

Offer ongoing guidance, mentoring, and coaching to team members. Invest in their professional development and provide resources to help them build the requisite skills to succeed.

Monitor progress and adjust

Regularly assess the progress of the implementation and measure results against established milestones. Identify any gaps or challenges and take proactive measures to address them. Make necessary adjustments to keep performance on track.

Celebrate milestones and successes

Recognize and celebrate achievements along the way to maintain team motivation and morale. Acknowledge individual and collective contributions to foster a positive and rewarding work environment.

Learn from failures and iterate

Embrace a learning mindset and view failures as opportunities for growth. Encourage a culture of continuous improvement and iterate on strategies based on lessons learned.

Takeaway: Unlock your potential to drive positive change within your organization

Mastering leadership implementation is essential for driving successful strategic outcomes. Effective leadership creates a strong foundation for translating strategic plans into actionable steps, motivating teams, and monitoring progress.

By adopting key leadership strategies, fostering a positive work environment, and continuously developing your skills, you can excel in implementing strategic initiatives and achieving desired results.

Consider utilizing Kippy, an AI strategy software, to enhance your leadership capabilities further and streamline the strategy implementation process.

Kippy allows you to seamlessly align metrics, your team, and activities tied to your organization’s objectives. You can implement your strategies throughout the organization, track progress through relevant KPIs and appraise workflows.

Book a demo and simplify your process of turning plans into action.

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