When brothers Dick and Mac McDonald opened their restaurant, they offered products people wanted in a short amount of time. They pioneered an assembly-line idea to get customers their meals quickly and saw some initial success as a result. A great product, however, doesn’t automatically mean a company will reach its potential. You need to have the right strategies in mind.
A former milkshake mixer salesman, Ray Kroc, saw the potential of what the McDonald brothers created. More than that, he had a vision of what the restaurant could one day become. He saw an entire chain of restaurants producing high-quality food that remained consistent no matter where you were in the country. He recognized that a franchise system, as well as other approaches, could turn McDonald’s into a nationwide sensation. To achieve this vision, he founded McDonald’s System, Inc., which would one day become the McDonald’s Corporation. Kroc prioritized the system he developed, requiring franchisees to adhere to the core values of service, quality, value, and cleanliness. He also created a new supply system, ensuring suppliers and franchisees were on the same page. By employing his many leadership strategies, McDonald’s went from having only eight restaurants to now numbering more than 38,000 throughout the world. In 2021, the company made 23.22 billion dollars.
It goes to show, products can make you millions, but systems can make you billions.
With the right systems and strategies, you can create growth, profitability, innovation, and culture simultaneously. Strategic leadership, in this sense, can take an ordinary business and transform it into an extraordinary one. This in turn generates more impact and produces better results. It also gets leaders closer to their vision of a better future.
In this article, you will learn about:
- What leadership strategies are
- Why they are beneficial
- How to create five of the best ones to grow your business
What Is a Leadership Strategy?
A leadership strategy involves creating a detailed plan that takes into account the leadership development a company needs to attain in order to fulfill the business’s established vision and goals. Leadership strategies note what kind of leaders need to become involved, the leadership styles that will get the best results, and what individual teams must do in order to contribute in a helpful manner.
An effective leadership strategy will also identify potential problems organizations may encounter down the road. This might include technological limitations, areas where current talent may be lacking, and more. Doing so will help business leaders prepare for these potential issues in the long term.
Why Do Executives Need Leadership Strategies?
- Productivity and Goal Achievement: With a good leadership strategy, executives can have considerable confidence their teams will achieve the goals they set. Every leader should have a vision, so this strategy provides the roadmap for how to get there. With a firm direction in mind, teams can work on being productive in making visions a reality.
- Stronger Outcomes: Leadership strategies result in higher quality products and services. Leaders don’t have to worry about shoddy quality or directionless teams. Instead, workers put more attention into the details. This also results in fewer time crunches, smoother operations, and better outcomes.
- Increased Innovation: Having a strategy means leaders can spend more of their time creating new ideas and methods. A strategic mind loves to think of new ways the organization can improve, grow, and better connect with customers. Seeking innovation also means never resting on your laurels. Leaders take what they’ve learned in the past and perfect the systems that get results. With few exceptions, the next iterations will constantly get better.
- Better Team Culture and Work Environment: When you have a strategy in place, you get a better team culture. Leadership strategies regulate work, meaning team members experience less work burnout. These strategies also create a smooth flow in an organization. People know what they need to do and their role in reaching for something greater. This leads to increased job satisfaction, happiness, higher retention, and less absenteeism.
5 Leadership Strategies to Implement in Your Business Now
1. Develop Detailed Strategies and Systems
In life, as in football, you won’t go far unless you know where the goalposts areArnold H. Glasgow
At the start of 2010, Domino’s shares were around $11 dollars. Less than a decade later, they were up to $260 dollars.
So what happened? Domino’s recognized they were failing to live up to their vision. To right the ship, they developed new strategies and systems with the aim of improving sales. That meant redoing all local restaurants, putting in new locations for faster delivery times, providing easier ways to order online (a hit with younger customers), and more.
This is just one example of a company having a detailed strategy of how they were going to grow, and implementing the system to make it happen. The systems helped the strategies play out. It only took a few years for Domino’s to go from the bottom of customer satisfaction lists to now being worth $9 billion dollars.
The same can happen with any company. Know what your goals are and create detailed strategies to reach them. Next, create systems that achieve your ambitions.
How to take goals from strategies to systems:
- Visualize the outcome you want to achieve.
- Stay hyper-detailed in your visualizations.
- List out each task that needs to be completed.
- Factor in any potential roadblocks you may encounter.
- Keep the steps of your strategy small and consistent so anyone can follow it.
- Create workflows that also feature strict deadlines.
- Measure your progress to gauge how well you’re doing.
2. Get Your Team Directly Involved in the Vision
Create the highest, grandest vision possible for your life, because you become what you believe.Oprah Winfrey
Your vision is the reason people want to work for you. When they believe in it, employees want to do everything it takes to make it real. Because of this, develop a team culture where people have opportunities to see your vision in action. This gives team members the chance to realize the difference they’re making.
For instance, at Ancient Nutrition, an ambitious goal we have related to health and environmental protection is to plant 10 million superfood trees in the next decade. So how do we get our team members involved? Our approach gives each team member the opportunity to plant trees on our 4,000-acre regenerative farm. In this sense, they can contribute directly to a bigger cause.
Get your team involved as much as possible. Even if it’s doing something small, they can at least feel confident they’re contributing in some ways toward real transformational change.
How to get your employees involved:
- Provide time for them to volunteer in related activities.
- Train and develop their skill sets so they can better execute your vision.
- Communicate clearly what the vision is so they understand it.
- Give daily and weekly motivational messages reinforcing the “why” behind it all.
- Work with managers and other leaders as part of a leadership team to help spread the vision.
3. Let People Know Exactly How They Contribute to the Vision and Mission
Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.Henry Ford
On that note, helping people contribute to achieving a vision and mission requires providing them with the knowledge they’ll need. It all starts with accurately defining that vision and mission. Write out a vision statement and mission statement and prominently display them for reference.
Many times, people don’t realize just how much they’re contributing to the business. It’s up to you to let them know. For example, you may talk to customer service representatives to tell them what a great job they’re doing and how they keep the company moving forward. If you receive word from a customer about the help a customer service rep gave them, tell your team members about it.
What much of this comes down to is implementing strategies of employee appreciation and recognition. Let them know how critical they are to the business. More importantly, let them know why the company needs them. Once they know the role they are to play, they’ll tackle it with more energy and enthusiasm.
How to show employee appreciation and recognition:
- Personally thank an individual for their work.
- Provide added perks like more time off or a bonus.
- Promote those who achieve excellence.
- Interact with team members regularly.
- Encourage workers to recognize others on their team.
- Hand out awards for a job well done.
- Involve team members in important decision-making.
4. Divide and Conquer
If you want to do a few small things right, do them yourself. If you want to do great things and make a big impact, learn to delegate.John C. Maxwell
Leaders can’t do it all by themselves. As much as they’d probably like to, they need to learn how to divide and conquer, meaning they need to delegate. This doesn’t mean taking a laissez-faire approach but rather carefully planning out who has what responsibilities ahead of time.
Delegation is one of those leadership qualities that all leaders need to adopt. Work it into your leadership strategies to ensure that everything gets done on time. This requires being detail-oriented, knowing how many people you have, and how much work needs to happen to get the mission fulfilled.
Delegation also means empowering your teams. Let them know you believe in them by giving them more responsibilities and challenges. This gives them the chance to show they are productive and excel at time management.
How to effectively delegate:
- Hire people you trust who can fill important roles in the organization.
- Train employees to be effective problem-solvers and critical thinkers.
- Allow team members to see their proposed solutions to the end.
- Explain the reasoning behind your decisions.
- Decide which tasks can best be handled by other people.
- Ensure your objectives are clearly explained and detailed.
5. Never Lose Sight of Ways to Innovate
The only way you survive is you continuously transform into something else. It’s this idea of continuous transformation that makes you an innovation company.Ginni Rometty
In the course of following a vision, it can be easy to get bogged down in day-to-day tasks. That’s why it’s important for leaders to never lose sight of their creativity and drive for innovation. Leadership strategies should always account for innovation, bringing new products and ways of thinking to customers that keep them excited. In many instances, achieving a vision requires it.
You may choose to pursue an innovation strategy. This is where companies provide value to their customers by focusing on what they want and need. They make the customer the core part of their strategy instead of concentrating on the competition. By providing customers with better products and services through convenience, price, and effectiveness, companies gain a competitive advantage. It pushes their organizations forward, moving them ever closer to their vision.
How to create an innovation strategy:
- Always place your customers as your sole focus.
- Note where the customer experience might be lacking.
- Outline what the customer needs.
- Find a solution that meets the customer’s needs.
- Follow first principles thinking by constantly asking “why.”
- Don’t focus completely on what your competition is doing—you’ll just be playing catch-up.
Leadership Strategies Change, So Stay Flexible
However beautiful the strategy, you should occasionally look at the results.Sir Winston Churchill
Carrying out your leadership strategy also means verifying that it’s actually working. You need to constantly review your strategies, checking to see if you’re getting the results you want.
For example, if you have a strategy for your new digital marketing campaign and you see that it’s getting limited results, it’s time to take a step back. You need to evaluate your strategy, tweaking it or even overhauling it completely. The reason for these changes is to produce the desired results and meet the goals you have set.
This is why systems need to be in place to constantly monitor the success of your strategies.
A typical system may look like this:
- Produce strategies you can measure at any point.
- While implementing the strategy, measure the variables involved.
- Evaluate your strategy’s effectiveness throughout the process.
- Review how effective the strategy is at meeting your objectives.
This evaluation is just one of the leadership skills you’ll need as you develop your leadership strategies. As part of your development, you’ll eventually reach new levels of leadership where you can showcase your skills. Check out the following article to learn more about leadership levels.