Leading Strategically for High Performance

by / Monday, 30 December 2013 / Published in Strategic Leadership

Why do leaders of some organizations successfully execute strategies that lead to excellent business results while others fail to translate strategic intent into desired outcomes? The difference is in their collective ability to lead strategically.

Executives in high-performing organizations:

  • Invest significant time on questions of strategy coupled with powerful questions of leadership.
  • Distinguish the periodic strategic planning process from leading strategically for ongoing organizational impact.
  • Know that good strategic leadership at the organizational level is somewhat different from effective leadership by individuals scattered about the organization.
  • Realize that when strategy lacks meaning for people, it is unlikely that they will assimilate the essence of strategic directives and perform to their highest potential.
  • Pay attention to leadership strategy along with the business strategy in order to reach their performance potential.

Leading strategically also requires the executive team to identify and focus on its most pressing leadership challenges. We find that the challenges leaders face when growing their businesses and addressing strategic-related issues tend to fall into four broad categories (Dinwoodie, 2013):

Leading change – leaders foresee changes to the business environment that will bring increased complexity and new tensions to the organization as it engages in transformative business-model change.

Shaping culture – leaders develop organizational cultures that elicit strong identification and a sense of belonging on the part of individuals.

Leveraging polarities – leaders understand and leverage organizational priorities that may appear to be diametrically opposed, avoiding an “either/or” approach, they find “both/and” solutions.

Spanning organizational boundaries – leaders implement tactics to span organizational boundaries in order to facilitate interdependent decision-making and collaboration.


Successful leaders think strategically about these types of challenges, take action to address them within the organizational context, and influence other stakeholders to drive the institution toward the desired performance outcomes.

Adapted from – White Paper:  Bridging the Performance / Strategy Gap: How leadership strategy drives business results

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