Article Written by Eman Ali Ahli, MBA Student
The transition from the operational level to the strategic level is an important process that every leader needs to overcome. It involves many challenges. Many leaders face difficulty to pass this step and they fail to overcome it. Due to the rapid changes in the business environment and the growing competition and changing attitudes of employees from one generation to other generation, it is necessary for organizations to develop strategic leaders who are able to formulate and implement strategies which deliver the desired results to achieve sustainability. In contrast to operational leadership, whose role is limited to managing only the day-to-day operations, leaders who transform from operational leadership to strategic leadership need to play different types of roles to achieve long-term strategic results. This will help their organizations to grow and gain competitive advantage. It will also help them to implement the change management process easily and quickly. The importance of each role depends on the status of the business that the leader is associated with. The strategic leader generally plays nine roles in the organization while displaying his leadership style.
These nine roles of the top strategic leadership are:
1.Navigator— In this role, the leader works quickly and clearly to deal with difficulties, solves problems and takes advantage of various opportunities to influence existing work and people. The Navigator role of the leader makes the leader to analyze a large amount of conflicting information, understand the root cause of the problems and identify the feasible and optimal solutions.
2. Strategist— The strategist role of the leader enables the leader to develop a long-term strategy and set targets to match the vision of an organization. The strategy is focused on creation of future plans and required actions immediately. The strategist role enables the leader to provide a direction to the organization to achieve the desired vision.
3. Entrepreneur— In this role, the leader acts an entrepreneur. He/she identifies and takes advantage of opportunities and expands business by creating innovative products, services or markets. Thinking like an entrepreneur and owner of the organization, the leader generates new ideas, takes advantage of opportunities or proposals and transforms them into a new path. The leader develops the ability to solve problems easily through his acumen and shrewdness and creates a new style of leadership.
4. Mobilizer— Playing the role of mobilizer, the strategic leader mobilizes all kinds of resources and develops teams and partners to work with them by leveraging the synergy of wide variety of talent. Also, he / she builds a capacity that allows rapid implementation of work in order to achieve complex objectives.
5. Talent advocate - In this role, the strategic leader identifies talented and skillful employees, internally and externally and stays in touch with them to tap their talent as and when required. He / she creates a culture of talent development by encouraging innovative ideas, by providing training, by empowering the talented employees to reach their highest possible abilities.
6. Captivator— Playing the role of a captivator, the strategic leader continues to build confidence among employees, and creates positive feelings and a culture of belongingness. In this role, the leader converts the talent of employees into a useful outcome for the organization. Also, he convinces employees to accept his leadership style, synchronizes it with the vision of the organization and empowers them achieve the vision.
7. Global thinker— The other important role played by the strategic leader is as a global thinker. The leader understands and respects all types of diversity in the organization and designs the strategies and action keeping the diversity factor in mind. He thinks from a very high macro level perspective and keeps identifying global opportunities.
8. Change driver— Organizations need to adapt to the dynamic business environment by making changes on a continuous basis. The strategic leader plays an important role as a change driver. The leader creates and develops change management strategies and evolves techniques to make the employees accept the changes from time to time. The leader convinces the employees by projecting the fruitful outcomes of the changes.
9. Enterprise guardian - In this role, the strategic leader acts as an enterprise guardian. He / She keeps a constant check on the status of the organization by keenly observing the business environment and guards the enterprise from any disturbances. The leader refuses to negotiate over long-term gains. He / She takes bold and wise decisions with courage and risk taking attitude for a long-term benefit to the organization. The leader takes the onus of failure and shares the success with all the employees. Keeps away from emotions and personal relationships when it comes to the achievement of results. He / She becomes popular in the organization and outside by taking bold, useful but unpopular decisions. It is essential to develop the leaders with the above abilities in every organization. Management institutions like Skyline University, an accredited university in UAE offering MBA courses, BBA courses and diploma courses in Sharjah have a key role in inculcating such leadership traits right from the college days among the management students to enable them to grow and become strategic leaders in future.