Many people are looking for the best path into effective strategic planning.  The problem is that a lot of these people are followers and not leaders. Leadership is critical to implementing effective strategy. Remember that the success of an organization is directly dependent on the success of those leading. Obviously each circumstance is unique, but in general people are either natural leaders or they need to learn these traits. Not everyone can inherently lead.

If you’re a leader and, when you’re in charge, the first question you ask is, “what do I do?” Then you’re not a leader. Leaders naturally lead.

From Forbes:

Strategic leadership requires us to think, act and influence others in ways that promote the enduring success of the organization. First, strategic thinking is grounded in a strong understanding of the complex relationship between the organization and its environment. It requires taking a broad view, involving the right people, with important information and perspectives, asking probing questions and facilitating conversations. Strategic thinkers then identify connections, patterns and key issues […] strategic leaders act in ways that manage the tension between success in daily tasks and success in the long term. They facilitate other’s strategic actions, too, by providing a balance of direction and autonomy, of learning from actions and rewarding appropriate risk-taking.

In order to effectively implement successful strategy, you need a leader who isn’t afraid to take appropriate risks. It’s easy, and quite common, for people to get paralyzed with fear about making a bad decision. It’s a simple concept that truly terrifies a lot of people. As a leader, you have to know that it’s okay if your first shot doesn’t go in. Try a different approach to implement the strategy and see what happens. Rinse and repeat.

You can’t put a strategy into motion if you’re constantly afraid of failure. Consider the definition of insanity. Why haven’t you grown the way you wanted in to in the last years? You haven’t changed anything. What’s supposed to grow? A leader who is implementing a strategy has to actually practice the concepts instead of just talking about them. If you want to grow beyond what you you’ve always done, then you have to put in the time and effort. There is no clear path of what’s going to work on and what is going to fail. Strategic planning requires prioritization of issues, development of tasks to tackle those issues and then strong leadership to successfully implement the plans.

What are your thoughts on the role of leadership in strategic planning? Is it required to have a capable leader to carry out an effective strategy? If tasks are assigned correctly, does leadership even matter? What do you think? Comment below!