When Developing This Year’s Strategic Plan, Know Your Role

Putting leaders and managers together for a few days every year to hammer out a strategic direction is relatively straightforward. The challenge is making sure you move through strategic planning not only with these key people in the room, but with the same folks fully understanding their unique role in the strategic development process.

  • The best case: When leadership roles in strategy are recognized and fulfilled, it sends a clear signal to the organization that unified buy-in from the top exists.
  • A common case: Roles between board members, executives, and managers may be blurry.
  • The worst case: Crossover can impact abilities to get things effectively accomplished as it can create confusion, uncertainty and animosity.

To preserve the best case scenario in planning, leaders should perform to the roles of their assigned responsibilities at strategy briefings, sessions and retreats. While oversimplified, the following descriptions are representative examples of how each leader’s role is indeed different for creating and executing strategy:

Board Leaders: Be Ever Diligent.

For example —

  • Talk it: Advocate for the organizational vision during the creation of long-term of strategic objectives.
  • Walk it: Work with executives in setting the strategic course of action, offering your insight and expertise where any gaps may exist.

Executive Leaders: Be Descriptive.

For example —

  • Talk it: Communicate clearly to ensure the strategy objectives are not vague to stakeholders, managers or staff.
  • Walk it: Prioritize resources with the right people and an appropriate budget, so everyone understands the execution of strategy is an unambiguous expectation.

Management and Team Leaders: Be Prescriptive.

For example —

  • Talk it: Guide individuals with a logic that conforms to the execution of the action plan.
  • Walk it: Create and use action plans that target 1-3 year departmental goal completion with quarterly individual targets to keep things tracking.

Some people in leadership positions might be completely unfamiliar with how their role fits into the strategic process, and that’s OK. It’s not absorbed by osmosis with each promotion or appointment after all! Just identify the roles as you initiate a strategic effort or go into your retreats. This way, needed roles are more likely to be fulfilled and leaders can forge ahead with confidence in how strategy gets executed.


In what departments or teams is your organization’s strategy best supported and why?



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