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October 9, 2023

Whose Job Is Strategy?

Sarah Harvey


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©Getty Images/Andrii Yalanskyi

How would you answer the question, "whose job is strategy?"

Do you arrive at a straightforward answer, or is it tricky to come to a clear view?

I confess, I have been pondering this for some time and have come to the conclusion that assigning the responsibility of strategy is more complex than I first thought. I started by considering what strategic leadership involves.

What Is Strategic Leadership?

A strategic leader is an individual within an organization who possesses the vision, foresight, and capability to guide the organization toward its long-term goals. This type of leader not only focuses on the day-to-day operations, but also on the larger picture and future direction of the organization. They're responsible for shaping and implementing strategies that help the organization to adapt to change and to excel in a dynamic and competitive business environment.

If that wasn't enough, strategic leaders need a clear vision of where they want the organization to be in the future. They must anticipate market trends, technological advancements, and other relevant changes, enabling them to prepare the organization for the future. Effective strategic thinkers conduct thorough risk assessments, and then focus on long-term planning and are able to set realistic and achievable goals that align with the organization's mission and vision. However, these plans can’t be set in stone: strategic leaders are open to change and can adjust strategies and plans to respond to evolving circumstances, whether within the organization or in the external environment.

Considering all that’s involved with being a strategic leader, it is clear that they play a crucial role in setting direction, inspiring teams, and ensuring the organization remains relevant and competitive in a rapidly changing business environment.

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Strategy as a Collaborative Journey

These days, good strategic leaders take people on a journey rather than telling them where to go. It's about fostering a shared understanding of an organization's vision and purpose. Leaders must communicate the "why" behind strategic decisions, making it easier for team members to align their efforts.

In today's fast-paced and ever-changing business landscape, the concept of "being strategic" has arguably gone through a bit of a make-over. The global pandemic forced organizations to re-evaluate their strategies, and as we emerge from this crisis, the question arises: whose job is strategy now?

Pre-Pandemic vs. Today: the Evolution of Strategy

Before the pandemic, many of us would have experienced strategy largely at the hands of top-level executives and managers. They would craft long-term plans and communicate them down the hierarchy. However, today's dynamic environment demands a more inclusive approach. Strategic leadership is no longer a top-down process but a collective effort involving individuals at all levels.

Empowered Team Members

To make strategy a collective effort, team members need to provide their input. They are the ones on the front lines, interacting with customers and experiencing market shifts first-hand. Their insights can be invaluable in shaping and refining strategies. To achieve this collective effort, creating an environment where ideas are welcomed and valued is absolutely crucial.

Influencing Strategy Without Being a Leader

Not everyone holds a formal leadership position, but everyone can influence strategy. Regardless of your role, you can contribute by staying informed and interested in where the company is heading, being proactive in problem-solving, and sharing your insights. Take the initiative to propose innovative solutions and collaborate with colleagues to implement them. Your contributions can make a significant impact on shaping the organization's direction.

So, Whose Job Is Strategy?

My conclusion is that strategy works best when it’s a shared responsibility. No longer confined to the boardroom, strategy happens at every level of the organization. It shouldn’t happen to you; it should happen with you. By empowering team members to provide input and encouraging a collaborative approach to strategy, organizations can adapt more effectively to the ever-changing challenges of our times. Whether you hold a leadership position or not, you have the power to influence and shape the strategic direction of your organization. Embrace this opportunity, and together, we can navigate the complexities of the post-pandemic world.

Strategy Resources

You may like to take a look at the following Mind Tools resources, then join the coaches’ events to share your thoughts, ask questions and learn more.

The Line Manager's Role in Strategy Video
What Is Strategy?
Strategic Leadership, With John Adair
Creating Successful Strategic Plans
Creating a Culture of Collaboration Infographic

Sarah Harvey bio pic, smiling and pink haired

About the Author:

Sarah is an experienced and qualified leadership, culture and conflict coach. An author, skilled trainer, facilitator, manager mentor, and workplace mediator, Sarah has over 30 years’ experience to draw on. Following a career as an HR leader and consultant, she now loves coaching leaders and teams to improve their results through developing better workplace relationships and creating savvy conversational cultures. Away from work, Sarah can be found in her garden or perhaps writing her next book.

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