Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Strategic Skill Set

Tuesday morning: October 12, 2010

Dear friends,

“The world is too big, too changing, and too varied,” writes Marshall Goldsmith. “As a result, leaders and their followers must make the right decisions on their own because they have internalized the organization’s mission, values, strategy and brand.”

In a challenging world and sluggish economy, more and more executives share with me the importance of organizational clarity. They agree with Marshall Goldsmith that making the right decisions is mission critical to their success. They comprehend that understanding the organization’s mission, values, strategy and brand promise will result in sustainable results. They want employees to believe in what they are doing and to recognize how much impact they have on the overall company’s success. Yet, on a day to day, quarter to quarter basis, these same executive struggle with how to make this happen.

To help them overcome these difficulties, I remind them of two important leadership lessons. First, knowledge comes with a half-life. When I graduated with a Master’s Degree in Instructional Design and Technology from the University of Iowa in the 80’s, I was on the cutting edge of many things but once out in the “real world” I realized I was far behind in the area of technology.

For example, my class on how to generate exceptional transparencies was outdated and our introduction to computers was comical when it came to what was happening in many offices and training centers. In essence, the real world knowledge was moving faster than the education system could keep up.

Nowadays, I realize that for many leaders the focus of technology is still on the hardware. I often listen to leaders talk about the rush to purchase the new iPad, Chrome OS Tablet, or latest phone. But in reality, it is the way we are using technology, i.e. computing, that is changing faster than the computers.

Second, some executives are becoming “intellectually lazy.” As Joel Kurtzman points out in his new book, Common Purpose: How Great Leaders Get Organizations to Achieve The Extraordinary, Jossey-Bass 2010: “... one of the worst mistakes a leader can make is to become intellectually lazy. Real leaders need to take in enormous amounts of information and knowledge and to process what they take in from the vantage point of their team and from the point of their organization and its mission.” The lazy element from my perspective is not about the ability to consume vast amounts of information. I see people doing this every day. Instead, it is the lack of discipline to analyze the information from different vantage points. The later takes a great degree of effort and thought.

And this is where we are falling short day after day, quarter after quarter. We are not creating a pool of people within our organizations that know how to step back and look at the organization from different vantage points. From my perspective, tunnel focus has become epidemic. Working with knowledge that has clearly passed it’s shelf life, executives see parts but not the whole, invariably causing poor decisions and strategic misalignments.

The solution is to teach people how to reflect, analyze and plan strategically. Then, we need to teach them how to implement this level of work and integrate it into the cultural fabric of the organization. This is no small feat but the best companies do it on a regular basis because they know it is the foundation to organizational clarity, commitment and engagement.

To assist executives and their companies in achieving this level of success, I created the From Vision to Action Leadership Training in the late 90’s. This in-depth, year long training course encompasses four quarterly sessions, and helps participants gain valuable skills, knowledge and perspective about leadership, strategic planning and execution, and implementing organizational change. It builds capacity and understanding so executives can have the discipline to analyze information from different perspectives.

For more information about this unique training opportunity, including cost, dates and location, I encourage you to click on the image of our website on this blog page. Then click on the word “Training” on the navigation bar. There you will find detailed information about the “From Vision to Action Leadership Training.”

In a world that is complex and moving quickly, we need people who can lead and manage with a strategic skill set. The From Vision to Action Leadership Training has for over ten years been doing just this. I hope you can join me in 2011 and participate in this exciting learning opportunity.

My best regards,


Geery Howe, M.A.Consultant, Executive Coach, Trainer inLeadership, Strategic Planning and Organizational ChangeMorning Star Associates319 - 643 - 2257

No comments:

Post a Comment