Strategic and Operational Leadership

If I always appear prepared, it is because before entering on an
undertaking, I have meditated for long and have foreseen what
may occur.  It is not genius which reveals to me suddenly and
secretly what I should do in circumstance and unexpected by
others; it is thought and meditation – Napolean Bonaparte
If I always appear prepared, it is because before entering on an undertaking, I  have meditated for long and have foreseen what may occur.  It is not genius which reveals to me suddenly and secretly what I should do in circumstance and unexpected by others; it is thought and meditation – Napolean Bonaparte

Leadership: the most common “missing ingredient” in The Operational Art

It is not an exaggeration to state that effective Leadership is the single biggest problem impacting most corporations today and it is also the most common concern that we encounter acrossall of our Clients globally regardless of the business sector.

Businesses falter or fail because individuals are thrust into leadership positions with very little leadership training.  Weak leaders fail to recognize operational and cultural disconnects and invariably make the wrong decisions (even for the right reasons), which can be devastating.

With the large scale integration of the Internet, Mobile phones and, more recently, Social Media into the fabric of day-to-day business the requirements of Leadership in business has never been greater.

Strong and aligned Leadership at all levels of any business is critical to the overall Operational Health of the firm because, in simple terms, it determines the Operating Climate (which is different from the Culture of the firm, albeit linked).  The more efficient and effective the Operating Climate, the more the firm can grow, maximize success and proactively manage change.

As such, everything we do for our clients is related to mastery of the Operational Art.   Our methodology continually links your vision and strategic goals to the tactical operational necessities required for your firm’s organizational health and wellness.

Defining Strategic and Operational Leadership in the 21st Century

 Sir James Porter’s Observations on the religion, law, government, and manners of the Turks, 1768, includes “…the fish stinks first at the head…,” which when applied to Leadership equates to the fact that if the people who run the firm have Leadership problems then the people who work for them may also have Leadership issues.

The single biggest missing component of The Operational Art is, in fact, weak, ineffective, or non-existent Leadership.

Part of the reason for this finding can be explained by the lack of military experience in most executives today (at last check, only 7% of the total population of the United States had any military service whatsoever), but that is only part of the problem.  Other driving factors seem to be a lack of formal Leadership development programs particularly at larger firms (mainly due to “cost cutting”), a focus on post graduate educational degrees that lack a foundation in Leadership and other recent cultural requirements.

In terms of The Operational Art, weak, scared, or “undertrained” leaders fail to recognize the day-to-day operational and cultural disconnects within their business responsibility and invariably make the wrong decisions (even for the right reasons), which causes their business to falter and fail because the speed of business is now so fast and unforgiving.

Attributes of the successful senior leader:

  • Bold and innovative
  • Strength of character and courage
  • Intelligent, insightful, creative
  • Empathetic and compassionate
  • Ethical Role Model

In addition, highly effective leaders also must possess one critical characteristic for success: The Courage to Take Action.

Contrary to popular opinion: the Courage to Take Action cannot be taught.  This statement will prove highly unpopular with many people from our competitors to parts of the U.S. military.  Regardless, we stand by that statement.

That said, the Courage to Take Action can be nurtured, encouraged developed, grown and expanded in people who have the innate natural ability. And that is what we do at every level of our client’s organizations from the CEO to team leaders and individuals across all business silos.

What senior leaders do will make the difference – between success and failure.  Their skills represent the knowledge base required for action to implement the vision of what must be accomplished. Professional skills build on the basic leadership tenets of knowing yourself, and knowing your teams across one or multiple business silos. Effective organizations have life and character.

  • We will help you and your key people enhance your (their)core capability and capacity (the two items are very different) which will result in a greater ability to proactively manage change “on your feet in day-to-day operational business.”

Since 2002, we at Andover Partnersdefine effective Leadership as “Getting things done through others”we have identified five types of Leadership that directly impact The Operational Art:

  • Self – simply put, the ability to enable yourself to be the most effective possible in your current Role, position, or situation.
  • Peer – one of the most difficult types of Leadership because it requires that you lead people who are “at your same level,” to include other persons of the same age, position, or experience.
  • Team – this specifically refers to leading groups of people up to nine (9) in number (more than nine individuals and you are actually leading “Groups” of people, which we call Senior Leadership).
  • Senior – these are the Skills Sets required to lead people who in turn lead other people.
  • Strategic– in this situation, you are leading such a large number of people that the Skills Sets required are a “stand alone” platform. For example, the CEO of a Fortune 500 firm.

It should be noted that in some complex situations a Client can be asked to exercise all six types of Leadership in parallel!

It is our goal, regardless of the complexity of the engagement, to help our clients achieve their most important Critical Success Factors.  In terms of senior and strategic leadership:

  • We help you to strategically enhance your Leadership Skills Sets so you can manage your different business “Silos” more effectively,and be significantly more efficient at working within your organization.
  • We will ensure that the most important “things” you need to achieve in your business are “linked” in your Operational Model, so that the way in which success is measured is aligned across the entire firm. This includes making sure the chain of leadership maintains alignment of communications and reporting processes.
  • We will help you and your key people enhance your (their)core capability and capacity (the two items are very different) which will result in a greater ability to proactively manage change “on your feet in day-to-day operational business.”
  • We will establish practical methods that will help you become more Entrepreneurial as a business Leader, which as recent events clearly indicate, is a requirement for the Future State of Business.