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Leadership in strategy implementation



In this age of constant turbulence, steering an organisation to success depends so much on how a leader crafts effective strategies and how he implements those strategies. An organisation without a proper laid-out and thought-out strategy might end up operating like a ship without a rudder.
A strategic plan acts as a roadmap that directs the organisation towards one vision. A strategic plan helps in coordinating all the activities of an organisation and energises the staff to work towards one goal.

Research has proven that there is a link between success in strategy implementation and active leadership involvement in strategy formulation and its subsequent implementation. There are different views on the need for strategic planning.

Other academics argue that planning limits business leaders from being very responsive to the changing environment whereas others advocate strategic planning on the basis that it helps in guiding the organisation towards one goal by operating in a coordinated way.

It has however been said that failure to plan is planning to fail. So there is a place for proper strategic planning be it written or unwritten, and a leader plays a very crucial role in ensuring that a company formulates and implements its strategy to ensure the success of the organisation.
In most instances, formulating a strategy is fairly easy but successfully implementing it throughout an organisation is more difficult. It is therefore very important that senior executives put more effort in ensuring that the strategy is properly implemented.

It demands that a leader takes an active part in seeing the successful implementation of a strategy. Strategy implementation is an area that is now highly valued by many organisations because failure to implement a strategy will result in the failure of a well-crafted strategy.
The success of a strategy starts right from the inception – at the crafting of the strategy itself. Leaders need to be involved in crafting a clear vision for change in the organisation. When everyone knows what the organisation stands for, its mission and what its vision or desired future state is, it makes it easier for everyone to pull in one direction, motivated and with the determination to achieve better results.

A clear vision with clearly articulated strategic initiatives should be communicated to management and the rest of staff. The mode of communication should ensure that listeners understand the vision and are able to put it into action. Everyone should be aware of what the organisation intends to do.

Different ways of communicating should be used ranging from meetings, which is the most frequently used communication tool to use, use of memos, public address and circulars. Leaders should use layman’s language that ensures everyone understands the message clearly. As the leader communicates his vision he should make use of his interpersonal, technical, motivational, team building and other leadership skills and abilities to create the need and urgency for change which will enhance successful strategy implementation.
A leader should properly delegate responsibilities to his managers for a smooth implementation of an organisation’s strategy. The manager who is given that responsibility to implement part of the strategy should be able to pick out the people and teams best able to move the project forward.

Leading the implementation requires a good dedicated team to work with that has a mix of skills and so a manager should be able to select an appropriate team. Whichever manager a leader picks and delegates strategic implementation responsibilities, that manager should at least be one who is enthusiastic with what he is doing, imaginative and people-oriented.
You need to get goal getters; managers with an ambition to achieve. As a leader you should prioritise your objectives, and then put resources at the managers’ disposal. You cannot delegate responsibilities without at the same time equipping the manager with the necessary resources to put into effect the strategy.

Strategic implementation requires that all departments that are affected by the strategy participate in the implementation. The organisation’s leadership needs to identify those departments and give the necessary responsibilities to the managers. The appointed managers should then work with their teams and will be accountable in ensuring that the implementation team meets its timetable for getting the new project or programme in place.

It’s very critical that the leader is visible and participates in the strategic implementation. He should observe and ask employees questions to establish if they really understand what they are doing and its impact on the organisation. The managers assigned with strategy implementation responsibilities should be asked to submit weekly or regular progress updates.
This will ensure that the leader is kept abreast with any challenges that might arise and so will be able to handle them expeditiously. Strategy implementation requires that you be flexible so that if something does not work well in the way you have designed it, then you and your team need to find other avenues that work better. It is advisable that you document the process carefully so that you and your team can refer to how you handled the process for future ventures.

A leader should lead by example because your attitude will prove contagious for the staff. If you put your all into the project and you are energetic and willing to give your best to the organisation, others will follow suit. Be a consistent role model who is dedicated to the task and is there to assist the whole team.
Employees will want to emulate such behaviour. You need to create a culture of encouraging your team and also where you praise hard working creativity and innovativeness in performing certain tasks. This will motivate your staff into ensuring that the implementation process is a resounding success.

l Stewart Jakarasi is a business and financial strategist and a lecturer in business strategy (ACCA P3), advanced performance management (P5) and entrepreneurship.
He is the Managing Consultant of Shekina Consulting (Pty) Ltd and provides advisory and guidance on leadership, strategy and execution, corporate governance, preparation of business plans, tender documents and on how to build and sustain high-performing organisations.
For assistance in implementing some of the concepts discussed in these articles please contact him on the following contacts:, call on +266 58881062 or WhatsApp +266 62110062.

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