Article: Four ways to build strategic orientation as a leader

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Four ways to build strategic orientation as a leader

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How can leaders focus on long-term strategic planning and implementation to build their strategic orientation as a leader? Let’s find out.
Four ways to build strategic orientation as a leader

One of the critical contributions that today’s leaders can make in the context of the future of work, is to create a robust framework for a workplace with humans and machines.

But how can they do that?

Leaders will need to consciously focus on long-term strategic planning. 

It is imperative for young leaders today to foster a strong strategic orientation, so they can equip themselves to deal with both present and future challenges. Building a strategic outlook comes through both experience and learning. As with every skill, it takes practice and sustained focus.  

Here’s what Prof. Bernd Vogel, Professor in Leadership at Henley Business School, United Kingdom and Faculty at FLAME Centre for Executive Education (FCEE) had to say about how leaders can develop their own strategic orientation.

Seek inspiration from outside your business and industry 

Businesses across industries are grappling with the fundamental challenges of digitizing their workplace, integrating smart technology in their business processes and creating a platform for humans and machines to work together. 

Lookout for new and innovative case studies of organizations outside your industry. Often the way that a particular organization may solve a challenge may hold valuable lessons for those operating in an entirely different context. It’s important, therefore, to cultivate a list of resources that provide you with in-depth lessons on how businesses are adapting in the digital age. Also, share insights on how you embarked on the transformation journeys at your organisation. In other words, your learning must not be limited to your workplace and industry networks, and you must seek inspiration from best practices across the business world.   

Learn from your team 

A growing body of research indicates that diverse teams are smarter, more successful and more innovative. One of the easiest ways of honing your strategic orientation, then, is by learning from your team. The collective intelligence of a team can help you learn new perspectives and insights, help you understand contrary viewpoints and introduce you to new ideas. 

By virtue of belonging to different generations, backgrounds and having different experiences, your team members can enrich your understanding of relevant workplace and employee challenges. In addition to giving you a first-hand account of the strengths and weaknesses of the team, regularly interacting with your team members can also facilitate personal growth about different cultures and issues. 

Align your personal focus and organizational focus

The Global Leadership Forecast 2018 report suggests that in order to be able to lead in the future successfully, leaders will have to connect their personal development goals with that of their organisation. 

Unless you are personally motivated to offer innovative solutions in your current role, your organization won’t invest in building your leadership skills or consider giving you more responsibility. Thus, consider the long-term business goals of your organisation and align your personal learning journey.. In order to build your strategic orientation, you need to have the relevant skills, knowledge and expertise that will help your organization succeed in the future. 

You need to be personally invested in identifying the challenges faced by your organization and team and then work overtime to solve them. Keep yourself abreast on industry trends and seek support from the top management in optimizing existing work processes and implementing new solutions that can benefit your team. 

Monitor and evaluate 

It is critical that you monitor your time to understand how much of your effort and energy is allocated towards short-term goals and how much time do you spend on long-term activities. Keep a work-diary for a few weeks to identify what keeps you busy and if you are able to devote sufficient thought for long-term planning. 

Evaluate the record with a colleague to recognize the obstacles that are holding you back. Next, enlist the support that you require – from your organization, peers and senior leaders – to help you focus on long-term strategic planning and communicate the same to them. Undertake this activity periodically to ensure that you are devoting sufficient time on long-term strategic activities and solve the most pressing short-term challenges. 

At the threshold of the future of work, it is clear that business leaders will have to be more proactive and strategic while defining their own roadmap, instead of simply reacting to the sweeping changes that are already happening in the workplace. 


This article is based on a course offered by FLAME University on strategy execution. For more information about the course, click here.

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Topics: Strategic HR, #FutureReadyHR

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