An Integrated Approach to Leadership Development: The Leadership Strategy 3

The only thing we know about the future is that it is going to be different.” Peter Drucker

“The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn.”Alvin Toffler

In the previous block we argued leadership development should form part of an integrated view around leadership. We know that the days of the individual heroic leader who could inspire organisations are numbered. We know that this demanding complex business world requires leadership that is able to create shared possible futures realising a shared, specific chosen future with, through and for people.

In this blog we will look at building a leadership strategy and in the next one at leadership Brand

Most, if not all, of the readers is probably familiar with one or more approaches to strategic planning and will therefore have some sense of what a strategy document will look like as the output of the process. Leadership strategy as a process is not different, but the focus clearly is very specific. In the same manner one would ask as part of the strategic planning process questions such as (1) what markets will we need to compete in, (2) what products and services will we offer to what segments of these markets, and (3) what resource capacity do we need and have that is required to compete effectively, there are some specific questions related to leadership that follow from these.

With an understanding of where your organisation is going over the next few years, some leadership issues to be addressed are:

  • Given the environment we will compete in, do we have the required leadership profile?
  • What brand essence do we need to portray to external stakeholders, and do we have the leadership capacity to do so consistently?
  • Will we be competing in new / different markets that will require leadership skills we do not currently have?
  • Is the way we identified and developed leadership to date appropriate for our future positioning?
  • Do we have a clear expectation of what we expect as a business benefit from our investment in leadership?

Given the above, there is in reality only one key question to be addressed by your leadership strategy, namely “What leadership capacity do we require to execute our business strategy effectively now and in the future?”. Once this question has been answered, the subsequent questions are (1) how do we identify such leaders (2) how do we develop such leadership and (3) how do we manage and measure the leadership strategy to ensure benefit to the business?

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3 thoughts on “An Integrated Approach to Leadership Development: The Leadership Strategy

  • Hugh Allen Timm

    Thanks Letitia,

    My interest in this topic is the integration of leader to organisation. Professor Paul Brown in an interview with the Association for Coaching on YouTube suggests that we are currently making significant strides into answering the question of “What is the Human Being”, but no significant work, in his opinion, of work being done on understanding “What is the Organisation”.  He suggests that there is a lot of theory, but no systematic work going on to help us arrive at a shared common understanding of what is an organisation. He points out that systematically all humans are essentially the same, social creatures, reacting and being influenced by the impacts of our external environment and interactions with each other. Professor Brown suggests that as human beings governed by energy for all our behavioural outcomes, (emotions, stress, decisions, executive function, and learning etc…), and it may be necessary to understand the flow of energy in organisations, without which, attempts to address leadership in the organisation may continue to be problematic.

    I frequently see the failure of projects; change interventions and poor strategic decision making that compound these issues in organisations and am increasingly becoming convinced that Prof Brown has identified a potentially significant factor when coaching leaders.

    I look forward to your next blog.


  • Letitia van der Merwe Post author

    Dear Hugh

    Yes – the leadership strategy and brand at least in our view form parts of an integrated approach. In some of the follow-up blogs I will share a bit more on the leadership profiles.

    Your question on neuroscience – I have no idea. Maybe you or some or readers would like to contribute. I think it is a field that my understanding is just too limited to attempt a comment.

  • Hugh Allen Timm

    Hi Letitia,

    I agree with Leadership – ongoing – development (as an Executive Coach). I see you referring to leadership development, strategy and brand. Is this what would form part of your integrated approach and how would you determine if a leader profile matches the environment, considering it changes continually.

    On this point, neuroscience show that the brain hates change, so how important do you believe a neuro-behavioural approach to the individual leader is prior to strategy and brand?