Leadership strategies to bridge the performance/strategy gap

Adapted from the white paper: Bridging the Performance / Strategy Gap: How leadership strategy drives business results

Why do leaders of some organizations successfully execute strategies that lead to excellent business results while others fail to translate strategic intent into desired outcomes? The difference is in their collective ability to lead strategically.

Doug Price, President and CEO of Rocky Mountain Public Broadcast Network, explains:

“We have to focus first on understanding what drives our business and shaping the culture which enables us to execute the chosen strategy. From there, almost all progress is made from selecting the best potential from the talent pool available, preparing that talent to respond to the demands placed upon them; then crafting the organizational structures and necessary measurement to make sure that the desired outcomes are being achieved.”

As Doug suggests, leading strategically for superior performance has some very concrete elements that organizational leaders must address.  Our research shows that executives in high-performing organizations will set a leadership strategy that:

  • Identifies the critical drivers of organizational success
  • Shapes a culture that provides the conditions for individuals to perform
  • Creates a strong and sustainable talent pipeline
  • Evolves the organizational design to best support execution on the business strategy

A well-executed leadership strategy that supports the business strategy is what unleashes the performance potential of individuals and groups throughout the organization to achieve success – success that goes beyond each individual and contributes to the collective success of the organization as a whole.

The leadership strategy process is what makes the business strategy come alive in the organization. A leadership strategy bridges the gap between strategy and performance. It clarifies how many leaders the organization needs, the type of leaders needed, where they are needed, as well as the type of skills and behaviors required if it is to succeed in its performance goals (Pasmore, 2009).

By making explicit the leadership drivers, the culture, talent systems, and organizational design, the organization begins to unlock its inherent performance potential.  This is an iterative, on-going, learning process which engages the entire leadership strata of the organization.

Kaye O’Neal, regional director of human resources at The Wendy’s Company, puts it well:

“Leadership strategy is a multilevel process that spirals down and around the entire organization. The tactics of one level become the strategic challenges of the next. As the strategic challenges cascade from level to level and spread across the organization, teams become aligned to accomplish the business’s strategy and goals.”

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About David Dinwoodie

David is based at the Colorado Springs Campus of the Center for Creative Leadership. He is Regional Director of Leadership Solutions for Latin America, a role in which he coordinates client discovery, program design, and faculty development for leadership training activities throughout the region. More from David can be found on his website, www.dinwoodiedavid.com/. He is a co-author of the book Becoming a Strategic Leader: Your Role in Your Organization’s Enduring Success, and he is a research associate on the Leadership Across Differences project. David serves as senior faculty for CCL’s Leading Strategically program, is a member of the Organizational Leadership Practices team and delivers custom leadership development solutions for corporate clients worldwide.
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3 Responses to Leadership strategies to bridge the performance/strategy gap

  1. Great post David. The right leadership direction will always prove to have an impact with reaching desired outcomes through a strong understanding of common objectives through the layers or hierarchy. Increasing personnel productivity and quality is one of the main critical drivers of organizational success.

  2. No problem. I think adopting a niche Leadership style that constitutes of the organisation comfortability will prove to impact the strategic objectives – however, it does all depend on the size of the organisation along with many other factors.

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