Academic journal article Human Resource Planning

The Strategic Leadership Imperative for Executive Development

Academic journal article Human Resource Planning

The Strategic Leadership Imperative for Executive Development

Article excerpt

Executive summary

In a time reorganization, revolution, and change, strategic leadership is essential to the competitiveness and development of an organization. The imperative for executive development, then, is to cultivate strategic leadership.

At the core of this challenge is a changing paradigm for both executive development and organizational competitiveness. The notion of strategic leadership as focal point for redefining executive development and organizational competitiveness can help create the dynamic tension essential to organizational learning - the ability to stay the course while "rocking the boat" to enhance organizational readiness and competitiveness in an unpredictable environment.

This paper discusses the concept of strategic leadership as a driver for executive development efforts. It presents a model for the strategic leadership process based on the stages of an organization's development, and then presents recommendations for using the model to help design more effective executive development strategies.

In a time of reorganization, revolution, and change, strategic leadership is essential to the competitiveness and development of an organization. Developing strategic leadership capability, therefore, should be the essence of executive development efforts. Strategic leadership is the hard-to-delineate ability of leaders to stay the course in an organization while continually "rocking the boat" so as to enhance readiness and competitiveness in an unpredictable environment. Executive development involves that set of processes used by the organization to build leadership talent. These processes include selection, assessment, and appraisal efforts; education and training programs; planned on-the-job assignments and career moves; and formal coaching/mentoring relationships.

This paper discusses how the concept of strategic leadership can be used to focus executive development processes and build organizational competitiveness.

A Model of the Strategic Leadership Process

One very useful and very meaningful way to examine strategic leadership is to discuss typical patterns of leadership throughout the evolution of an organization over time. A number of authors have made significant contributions to the understanding of this crucial aspect of executive and organization development (Greiner, 1972; Adizes, 1988; and Miller, 1989). The model portrayed in Exhibit 1 is a synthesis of the work of these authors, coupled with new insights on the role of strategic leadership in building organizational competitiveness.

The model is a simple Presentation of the stages of an organization's development over time, its inception through its potential demise. The dimension of time is charted on the vertical axis. In this instance, time is signified by five developmental stages from emergence - when an organization comes into existence, through the stages of growth, maturity, decline, and decay - when an organization ultimately ceases to exist. It is very important to note at point that this progression of stages is not inevitable - that effective strategic leadership can enable an organization to avoid the consequences of the final two stages.

The horizontal axis is a measure of orientation to change based on the concept of Adaption/Innovation Theory (Kirton, 1976). This theory holds that creative style and orientation to change can be gauged on a continuum ranging from a very strong focus on adaptive creativity or a preference to work with what exists in an effort to do better what is currently being done, to a very strong focus on innovative creativity or a preference to give little relevance or credibility to what currently exists, leading to a tendency to do things differently.

Ansoff (1988) noted that to survive and prosper in an industry, an organization must be able adjust its strategic behavior to the changing demands of the marketplace. …

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