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An Essential Skill for Modern Leaders

Strategic thinking at the forefront of the new normal

As part of my work as a consultant, I focus heavily on marketing strategy. A client of mine put it beautifully

you are like the funnel and the fist through which I can get my ideas out and organised.

Charming hey. Still, now more than ever, my skills as a strategist (something I developed in over 10 years of faux pas and a gigantic learning curve) as becoming more and more prominent.

I have always known that strategic thinking was a great skill to develop and nurture, yet it has become painfully clear than now, more than ever, everyone needs to develop strategic thinking as part of their skillset.

In our volatile business environment, leaders are faced with constant major changes. As I was listening to a brilliant episode from the School of Greatness today with the one and only Gary Vee, the penny proverbially dropped.

Whether you are looking to grow a personal brand or a profitably business, you’ll need the ability to develop and implement strategies that respond to the changing conditions.

Strategic thinking is a lot about business values

Think about the way businesses have shifted – the Apples, Googles and AirBnbs of today see success as something that goes beyond monetary reward. Success is a combination of strong values, company culture of overall brand awareness.

Strategists in today’s world have to consider values and meaning, not just profit.

As consumers in an online-driven world, we want companies to provide us not just with nice things, but with meaning and a vision of the future. We want to know how companies will be paying it forward to build a better world.

That desire for meaning can’t be ignored.

Key takeaway: getting clear on your values and how they impact your audience is at the forefront of strategic leadership.

Recognising who your stakeholders are

Personal brands and companies should be led in line with the interests of their stakeholders. Yet, as soon as you use words like stakeholderspeople tend to switch off, hence a bit of reframing is in order.

Who are your stakeholders? They are the people or groups who get something out of the company and who influence it in return, including employees, investors, customers and your wider audience as a whole.

Strategic leaders will have to take all of these groups in mind when creating clear marketing communication, refining brand values and looking at the growth of a company.

Different stakeholders (or audiences) might have different views of what a successful strategy looks like, and after studying the strategy departments in four major companies, a group of researchers have spotlighted crucial areas to focus on. They all revolve around the idea of integration and leadership.

The most important to master is content integration, which revolves around a clear understanding of strategy and objectives within a company.

Leaders need to work on creating better dialogue and negotiation with stakeholders. That way, they can be the interface between groups, mediating while leading when difficult decisions have to be made.

Key takeaway: Taking time to create a system, framework or document that outlines key brand and strategy focus is going to be at the forefront of communication. Whether it’s a monthly, quarterly or yearly calendar, clarity is 100% key.

Learning from a volatile business environment

Long gone are the days where you’d write a 5-year plan and religiously stick to it. These days, true success when it comes to strategy is about developing an externally-focused strategy. It means responding to and adapting with changes in the social and economic environment – something painfully obvious at this very moment.

Whenever I work with clients or members of our collective, I make time to

And responding to them means not just recognizing and following trends, but also knowing that they don’t last forever.

Key takeaway implementing small sets of clear goals can help shape a sustainable and healthy strategy. A list of future-focused activities everyone can get clarity on is key to create a plan of action for the future of your brand.

Which type of strategic leader are you?

The Model of Strategic Leadership Competence – or MSF Model for short – is a detailed analysis of competencies based on observing how successful leaders behave.

This allowed to recognise a few selected types of successful strategic leaders, based on this corporate model (which I adapted):

  • The advisor is particularly good at formulating strategy and competitor analysis. They also have great communication skills and excel at leading a team.
  • The specialist is an expert who built knowledge and years of experience in areas like finance or marketing, and works best when focusing on their specific area of expertise.
  • The coach, who is a generalist and has comprehensive know-how in management. Such a person would be great at managing strategic initiatives that are aimed at evolving and pushing a brand forward.
  • The implementer has great negotiation skills and tend to communicate the most to different stakeholders.

Is one of these types of leaders better than others? Not really. Yet, depending on the description you think you fit best, you’ll find more inclined to lead your brand and communicate in a unique and different way.

As the world is changing, and business models are turned on their heads, leaders should look at how their brand is interacting with all the different audiences involved in making their business great.

They need to find ways to clearly communicate values and the overall brand vision.

As a strategist, you officially are architect of the future. Unlike an architect, you are asked to constantly innovate and evolve, instead of creating immovable structures sent in stone forever – and that is truly where the magic happens.

Need more inspiration? Here’s a reminder of why you can do it all, but you certainly should not.

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