10 essential traits to become a strategic leader

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You have likely noticed that the leaders around you – your peers, partners, coaches and so on – have similar qualities. They each lead with their own style and in their own way, but they have similar ideas of what makes a good leader.

Successful strategic leaders need several qualities to lead their team and see the organisation succeed. These skills often do not come naturally. If you do not have some of these qualities, this is not a blog targeting what you lack. It is a suggestion for what you should focus on learning.

1. Listening skills

Too many people ‘listen’ while they are just waiting their turn to speak. They fail to truly hear and process information. Listening is perhaps the first key skill that a strategic leader needs. If you can listen – really listen – to the people around you, then you already have the foundation for seeing success with the following traits.

2. A collaborative approach

A collaborative approach allows for more creativity, innovation and a greater chance of achieving objectives. As a leader, it is your job to facilitate collaboration by creating an environment where people trust each other and feel comfortable sharing their ideas. Good collaboration will also serve you during tough times. Not everyone will have the same approach to problem-solving, and the myriad of ideas is likely what you need to move on to the next step.

3. An open mind

Leaders who are closed-minded tend to be inflexible and resistant to change. They shut themselves off from new ideas. You need to see different points of view to make decisions and lead your organisation in the right direction. When you consider the advice and perspectives of other people, even if you disagree, you increase the amount of information you have for decision-making.

4. Humility

Humble strategic leaders admit to their mistakes, share credit and never assume they are the smartest person in the room. People are more likely to trust a leader who is humble and open to feedback than one who is arrogant and dismissive of others’ opinions.

5. Compassion

You need compassion to lead effectively. You lead people that will experience challenges in their personal and professional lives. You will gain their trust if you can listen and demonstrate your understanding of personal struggles. When they have professional challenges, your ability to troubleshoot and help them find solutions will speak volumes about your leadership.

6. An ability to inspire others

A strategic leader can see the big picture and inspire others to work together to achieve common goals. You must be able to motivate and encourage others to do their best work. You need to be able to build consensus and get people on board with your vision. Inspiring people also means you need to focus on the human element. Listen to people from all walks of life and build relationships with them to make them feel heard, understood and inspired to do their best.

7. Investment in the organisation’s success

It is not enough to be invested in your company for personal success or the salary. If you fail to invest in the success of your organisation, then you will not be able to lead it effectively. You are the person who sets the direction of the company and ensures that each department works in line with the same goals and values. Your investment must be in the organisation’s success and the people who will make that success a reality.

8. Diplomacy

Diplomacy is essential for effectively managing relationships with other people and organisations. A diplomatic leader can help prevent minor disagreements from escalating into larger problems by seeing both sides of an issue and mediating between parties. Getting other people on board with your vision requires communication and working towards a compromise when necessary.

9. Stoicism

Stoicism is a philosophy that suggests remaining calm and rational is the best way to deal with difficult situations. It can be a challenging state to achieve, but it is necessary for strategic leaders if they are to make decisions without their emotions leading the charge. Of course, stoicism is not easy to achieve. It takes practice and discipline. But if you can master it, it will serve you well as a strategic leader. 

10. Discipline

If you pursue an idea, you need the discipline to see it through. Disciplined leaders are also able to focus on what’s important. They do not get side-tracked by things that are not relevant to the organisation’s goals. Discipline allows you to stick with a plan and troubleshoot when things get tough. This tenacity is essential for any leader who wants to be successful. 

Resonate can guide you as a strategic leader

I guide B2B leaders in defining their strategy and refining their approach to leadership. I provide strategic advice and consulting on various facets of strategy; business strategy, corporate strategy, product/service strategy, functional strategy, go-to-market, competitive strategy, pricing strategy, etc.

If you have begun a new role as a business leader or simply want to hone your leadership style, let’s connect, let’s talk. I have extensive experience in guiding leaders on all aspects of B2B strategy. I look forward to hearing from you.

RK is the CEO & Co-Founder of Resonate.

RK is Resonate’s chief strategist, thought leader, and IT industry veteran. Our clients depend on RK to advise on their business strategy, channel strategy, and sales strategy. 

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