In my series of posts about radical leadership, I presented an idea from Michael Maccoby, author of Narcissistic Leaders: Who Succeeds and Who Fails, about strategic intelligence, the key to help leaders turn visionary ideas into business success. I think there are valuable insights here that relate to how leaders need to approach their work.
Strategic intelligence requires a high degree of competency in five leadership areas:
- Systems thinking
Foresight and systems thinking are pure intelligence skills. The other components of strategic intelligence—visioning, motivating and partnering—are real-world skills or street smarts.
Motivating is the most misunderstood and elusive element of strategic intelligence. It’s one thing to talk up a storm about how a corporate initiative designed to improve sales and profits will help you crush the competition. It’s quite another to grasp the importance of “soft” skills like influencing others to act as you see fit.
Motivating is difficult because it involves the messy work of igniting people’s passions so they’ll carry out your vision. A business model that neglects human motivations won’t get the buy-in needed to make your vision a reality.
Consider appealing to the four “Rs”:
You must reward positive behaviors to further your vision. By building genuine relationships, you convince people to take ownership of the responsibilities you’ve entrusted to them.
Many leaders motivate only their immediate teams, often ignoring front-line workers and lower-level employees. A CEO with strategic intelligence recognizes the need to motivate the entire hierarchy.
Partnering is the ability to forge key strategic alliances. It’s different than making friends; a leader with strategic intelligence makes allies. You need to understand how each alliance fits into your corporate vision.
Partnering is not a matter of acquiring companies to bolster overall financial holdings, it’s quite the opposite. Leaders who operate in this fashion are merely “serial acquirers.” Instead, you learn to partner internally (with advisers who complement your personality) and externally (with companies that add value rather than size). This requires an understanding of how companies work together to motivate a social system that achieves one’s vision.
Often visionary leaders are so passionate about their ideas, they neglect to develop the right alliances needed to make their visions realizable. Equally important is to align all the various stakeholders and team members. And that’s where a professional executive coach can lend another set of eyes to help you create a strategic plan.
If you’ve got great ideas, but don’t know how or where to take the next steps, maybe you could use a coach? Let’s talk.