Six Steps for Effective Organizational Leadership

Topic(s): business strategy, change management, leadership
Publication: Harvard Business Review (2013)
Article: Strategic Leadership: The Essential Skills
Authors: P.J.H. Schoemaker, S. Krupp, S. Howland
Reviewed by: Susan Rosengarten

Whether you set your sites on becoming a corporate CEO or simply want to take your small business to the next level, there are a couple of essential skills you will need to have. According to the authors (Schoemaker, Krupp, & Howland, 2013), mastery of these six skills will help you navigate the murky waters of the 21st century and become a strategic leader in your own right.

1) Anticipate – Don’t get stuck on the present; conduct a SWOT analysis (which means identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) of your surroundings and consider how economic and market changes may affect your business model. Anticipate and plan for potential opportunities and threats, and gain insight into what makes your competitors successful.

2) Challenge – Never be complacent! Challenge the status quo and think outside the box. Promote a collaborative culture within your organization that encourages diversity of thoughts and ideas. Argue your point from different angles and multiple perspectives and see where it takes you.

3) Interpret – Take a closer look at relevant feedback and how it relates to the current state of your organization. Are there any readily emerging trends? Put your critical thinking skills to use by analyzing the situation and forming patterns and connections. What is your information telling you?

4) Decide – Come to educated conclusions based on a thorough consideration of the issues and all of the options. Play devil’s advocate and argue the problem from all angles. Once you have come to your conclusions, muster the strength and courage to begin executing on your plans.

5) Align – Make sure all your stakeholders are on the same page. Communicate the plan and bring everyone onboard. Consider whether your suggestions run counter to some of your stakeholders’ agendas or interests, and how you might go about dealing with resistance to change.

6) Learn – Set the example for your team and show your coworkers that it is okay to take risks and make mistakes. Learn from your failures and come out stronger for them. Promote a “culture of inquiry,” and take advantage of every opportunity to learn and grow.


Schoemaker, P. J. H., Krupp, S. & Howland, S. (2013). Strategic Leadership: The  Essential Skills. Harvard Business Review, 91(1), 131- 134.

Image credit: istockphoto