The American business magnate, Bill Gates founded Microsoft in 1975, the same year as the oil embargo recession. CNN went live for the first time during the early 1980s recession. Uber and Airbnb were founded during the Great Recession in 2009. What do these companies have in common? They understood that the more unpredictable the environment, the more excellent the opportunity, given if you have the leadership skills to capitalize on it.
Asking the right questions is a great start! Are you comfortable challenging traditional processes to make way for more quick and efficient operations? Do you conduct market research to foresee the future of your industry? These questions will help you know where you are at currently. Let’s look at the essential Strategic Leadership Skills, which we think are vital to your business.
1. Challenge the Traditional Ways
Walt Disney Animation Studio is known for its creative workspaces that inspire mind-blowing ideas. According to Hal Gregersen, Executive Director of the MIT Leadership Centre, the ability to ask “catalytic questions” is a defining skill of Ed Catmull, its President, and his colleagues. As Catmull himself says, Directors at Pixar, when stumped by a particularly vexing problem, are encouraged to assemble a “brain trust” of peers to challenge their thinking.
This simple exercise can bring in new ideas and new perspectives to help you make the right decisions. It will save your company a lot of time, money, and effort while also inculcating a creative culture
2. Anticipate the Future
Netflix, in 2020 grossed profits of about 6.44 billion dollars in the third quarter while AMC, the largest movie theatre chain in the US reported overall third-quarter revenue of $119.5 million, down 91 per cent from revenue of $1.31 billion in the same period of 2019.
What did AMC do wrong? They were stuck on a traditional idea and did not try to find new ways to engage their customers. In this dynamic, ever-changing corporate landscape, it is imperative always to anticipate the future. You can start by conducting market research, finding the difficulties your customers face, and asking them for their suggestions on making a specific product better.
3. A continuous process of learning
Elon Musk, Founder of SpaceX and Tesla, told Medium, “One bit of advice: it is important to view knowledge as sort of a semantic tree — make sure you understand the fundamental principles, i.e., the trunk and big branches, before you get into the leaves/details or there is nothing for them to hang on to.”
Most leaders swear by reading at least one book a week, as it helps them improve their knowledge and go to sleep smarter than they woke up. Strategic leaders always know the importance of curiosity and thereby strive to promote a curious work culture. We need to learn and grow from every situation, the good, the bad, and the ugly. They all have lessons to teach us.
4. Be Decisive
Jeff Bezos is one of the boldest decision-makers. He left his well-paying job for an idea and managed to transform it into a billion-dollar company.
In a 2015 letter to shareholders, he proposed two types of decisions entrepreneurs and executives regularly face. A Type 1 decision represents a door you walk through and can’t go back, such as quitting a well-paying job to focus on your side-hustle full time.
“These decisions must be made methodically, carefully, slowly, with great deliberation and consultation,” Bezos wrote. A Type 2 decision represents a reversible choice by an individual or smaller groups, for example, testing a new product with a group of beta customers or the layout of a section on the Amazon store.
Making bold decisions is a crucial trait of strategic leaders. These decisions have the power to direct your company in the right way in the long run.
A strategy is a missing link to outstanding leadership. These skills will help you inch closer to your goals and help you on the path to being a legendary leader.
Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality. –Warren G. Bennis, American Scholar