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The website article “Leading & Leadership” posits that certain skills will result in success as a manager. Vision, goal setting, and training are cited as key skills of effective leaders. Broad behaviors are categorized in order to define leadership types and differentiate leadership styles. Within these definitions is a style of purposeful and logical management best described as strategic management. Strategic Management and Leadership
Having the power to hire and fire is simply not enough to be an effective manager in today’s world. An increasingly educated workforce trained to think in terms of individualism does not respond well to simple exercises of authority. Strategic management is the key to unlocking any organization’s productivity. This is no more or less that the creation of an organization whose sum is greater than its parts. This requires leadership with the skills to train and manage with clear vision and inspiration. Defining Strategic Management
In an environment of constant change, no organization can exist long by doing things as they have always been done. This is a recipe for irrelevance and bankruptcy. “Just as you perform preventive maintenance on your car, you must perform preventive maintenance on your organization” (Clark, 2010). Innovation, adaption, and education are the keys to keeping an organization moving forwards successfully. The successful leader imparts a clear vision for the future of the organization that details structure and goals. These goals are broken down into achievable steps to be taken one by one. Personnel are trained and supervised so as to complete these objectives. Success is rewarded to inspire and build confidence. Loyalty is fostered amongst individuals and teams. Efficiency and production are simply byproducts of this new culture.
This is not achieved by accident. Every goal is set with an end result in mind that sets up the workforce for a greater challenge and consequently greater success. Training results in ability to meet challenges and is now valued. Leadership transforms from a catch phrase to something meaningful and leaders are valued at every level of the organization. Leaders ensure success and success brings rewards to everyone. The strategic manager creates the environment where this process flourishes and leads the way by demonstrating these skills on a daily basis. Leading Purposefully
Effective leaders do things on purpose. “Admittedly, some really successful leaders are so humble and personally unassuming, yet so passionate about their vision that they don’t seem to fit our personal definition of a leader. But never, ever, assume it is “leadership by accident. It isn’t” (Berchelmann, 2013). It is no accident that they are punctual and respectful of their coworkers. It is no accident that they take time to ensure that they know everything about their job and how their performance affects their coworkers. It is no accident that they are organized and on task. These are visible demonstrations of how to be successful. This provides credibility when they teach.
Passing on skills is the mark of an effective manager. A technician who is great at their job is valuable to an organization. One who can duplicate himself is priceless. Sometimes it seems almost painful for leadership to promote a skilled worker because they think they will lose production. That same worker in a management position could teach a whole crew of lesser worker to become very skilled thus increasing production in the long run.
Success can happen by accident or despite inaction. A manager who does not interact with his workers has no control over success or failure. The proactive purposeful manager is involved. Constant vigilance for production problems, personality conflicts, inadequate training, and bad behavior is required to lead effectively. Heading off these problems while they are small and easily handled makes teams appear to run like clockwork. In reality, it is the purposeful use of skill that keeps things running smoothly. Example of Strategic Management
In the early seventies, the American automotive industry was foundering. Dependence on a closed market, inefficient production methods, and poor design and craftsmanship were slowly killing off the pride and loyalty to their brands. Then the Japanese entered American markets with small efficient well made cars at a low price. Coupled with the rise in gas prices, the American car makers almost imploded and disappeared. A new paradigm had entered into the American industrial complex and no one had seen it coming.
Lee Iacocca took advantage of the reeling industry and took control of Chrysler. He outlined a vision for the company and all its subsidiaries that took advantage of all the new ideas that Japanese were bringing to American with the immense industrial capacity of the American auto manufacturers. Desperate to save their jobs, their livelihoods, and even their cities; Iacocca’s new vision was adopted and implemented.
New policies and procedures were dictated and implemented daily at every level. Not all were effective, but a new culture was being created where change was accepted and new ideas not simply rejected because they were new. At the operational level, car production was deconstructed and recreated to epitomize the new standards of quality, cost control, efficiency, and accountability. Later writing about the unconventional methods he used, “It was tough love even harsh love. But it was done to give life to a company teetering on the brink, to retain jobs for thousands of employees and dealers, and to maintain the existence of a company that had contributed enormously to the US economy” (Iacocca & Whitney, 2007, p. 139). It was not long before their automobiles were not only successfully competing with the imports but helping Chrysler move to the top of the market.
This was a huge success for Chrysler not only financially, but operationally. Their workforce was now one of the best trained and productive in the world. This was passed on to their vendors and suppliers as well as their dealerships. Chrysler became, if only for a time, the model American car manufacturer. This was certainly no accident. Leadership thought strategically. It produced a clear and communicable vision that was implemented in a manner that generated confidence and productivity. Conclusion
People respond positively to success. The size of that success is largely irrelevant. A strategic manager can use this phenomenon to set goals that are achievable with increasing effort that allows their team to become accustomed to both success and developing useful skills. Initiative, productivity, loyalty, and teamwork are just a few traits that can be fostered by solid leadership. The strategic manager can utilize these skills to guide and propel their organization to success at any level. Department manager or CEO alike faces the same challenges on different scales. The true strategic manager will be successful at any scale.
Berchelmann, D.K. (2013). Purposeful leadership — it’s not a technicality. Retrieved from http://www.360hpl.com/purposeful-leadership-its-not-a-technicality/ Clark, D.R. (2010). First impressions. Retrieved from http://www.nwlink.com/~donclark/leader/impress.html Iacocca, L. & Whitney, C. (2007). Where have all the leaders gone?. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.