Have you ever found that it never seems possible, despite your best intentions, to be strategic? For most leaders, as pressure and stress increase from the urgent needs of the business, they put in more hours. The tyranny of the urgent comes at a high price for leaders and businesses. When businesses focus on winning the day, it is easy to fall behind, which can be disastrous in a highly competitive marketplace. Studies show that 85% of executive leadership teams spend less than one hour a month discussing strategy, and up to 95% of employees are unaware of or do not understand their organization's strategy. In reality, some leaders don't know how to lead strategically, and some company cultures reward leaders for saving the day. Being strategic is not easy for busy leaders. Market myopia is the lack of ability to see the bigger picture. It is very real and has come into focus because of the increasing volatility and complexity in the workplace. Here are three leadership practices to free yourself and your organization from market myopia.
Why being strategic makes matters
Leaders create influence through shared understanding and organizational alignment. Organizations create value by capitalizing on individual actions toward worthy goals.
Nothing in the workplace is certain. No rational person would argue that the modern workplace is predictable. Leaders are forced to respond to disruptive change and ambiguity in the world.
Being strategic is not to predict the future but enable better decision-making and preparedness.
Strategic leadership reduces costs and increases revenue. A large global study of the empirical research on strategic leadership concluded that the positive impact on organizational performance is consistent regardless of the industry and whether the business is private or public.
The complications associated with a lack of strategic leadership extend beyond the organization’s performance. When followers become confused about the company's direction, it leads to lower levels of engagement and creativity. Also, over time a lack of strategic leadership can contribute to a toxic culture with significant misalignment.
Escaping market myopia involves the leadership practices of strategic thinking, acting, and influencing.
Strategic Leadership Practice #1: Strategic Thinking
Strategic thinking is about the present and future. It also includes logical and creative thinking aspects. It needs to be continuous, adapting to the shifting markets and organizational capability rather than a once of year activity.
When rushing from one meeting to the next, it can be hard to find time to listen. Strategic thinking is not something best done alone or only with the board/executive leadership team. Leveraging multiple perspectives improves strategic thinking and organizational buy-in.
"It is impossible to formulate a strategy, let alone a "best" or preferred strategy, without engaging in strategic thinking." Abraham
Strategic thinking involves:
Assessing Internal and External Environments
Clarifying the business Mission, Vision, and Values
Discovering and Prioritizing Key Strategic Drivers
Strategic thinking is not strategic planning. The following video breaks down the difference between strategic planning and strategic thinking.
Strategic Leadership Practice #2: Strategic Acting
Gaps between the created strategy and the realized strategy put performance at risk. Strategic acting is both short, and long-term focused. You need to be able to set strategic priorities. Then manage the tension between daily issues and bigger-picture tasks. Strategic acting encompasses creating awareness and desire for change as well as finding ways to reward appropriate risk-taking to sustain the change. Strategic acting includes reflecting on decisions made and continuously learning from individual and company actions.
“Leadership is the capacity to translate vision into reality.” Warren G. Bennis
Strategic acting involves:
Creating Business Strategies
Developing Business Strategies
Executing, Performing, and Learning
Strategic Leadership Practice #3 Strategic Influencing
Strategic influence isn’t just about influencing others. It includes also being open to influence from others. Like all healthy relationships, strategic influence involves trust. How leaders approach strategic thinking and acting will moderate their strategic influence. In an increasingly uncertain workplace, executives need high-quality relationships with followers, peers, and others outside the workplace. Networking is not a distraction but an essential strategic influencing capability. Strategic leadership involves the willingness to be vulnerable to discussing difficult topics with conflicting points of view when you don’t have all of the information.
“If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader.” John Quincy Adams
Strategic influencing involves:
Direction, Alignment, and Commitment
If these three strategic practices were made into a commercial for market myopia, it would go something like this:
Is your business suffering from disengaged employees? Confusion? Loss of creativity? Does your team lack commitment? Do you ever wonder to yourself, what happened? Then you might be suffering from market myopia. Nearsightedness affects 10 out of 10 leaders and businesses worldwide that lose sight of the big picture and focus only on winning the day. It can lead to a toxic culture and cause slow growth. Being strategic helps your company gain a competitive advantage. The results of leading strategically may vary. Side effects include reduced stress, employee turnover, and burnout. Don’t attempt strategic planning if there is no desire to grow. Talk to your team before you start.
You can escape market myopia and achieve strategic targets. It all begins with your strategic thinking, acting, and influencing. What's the real market myopia challenge for you?
Abraham, S. (2005). Stretching strategic thinking. Strategy & Leadership, 33(5), 5-12.
Amrollahi, A., & Rowlands, B. (2017). Collaborative open strategic planning: A method and case study. Information Technology & People (West Linn, Or.), 30(4), 832-852.
Folkman, Z. (2021). Strategic thinking: The pathway to the top. Forbes.
George, B., Walker, M., & Monster, J. (2019). Does strategic planning improve organizational performance? A meta-analysis. Public Administration Review.
Hughes, R., Beatty, K., & Dinwoodie, D. (2014). Becoming a strategic leader: Your role in your organization's enduring success. John Wiley & Sons, Incorporated.
Kaplan, S., & Norton, D. (2005). The office of strategy management. Harvard Business Review. 83(10). 72-80.
Nwachukwu, C. E., Chladkova, H., & Olatunji, F. (2018). The relationship between employee commitment to strategy implementation and employee satisfaction. Trends Economics and Management, 12(31), 46-56.