By Richard L. Hughes and Katherine C. Beatty (Jossey-Bass, $32)
Ahh... another book on leadership. This one will "...show [us] how to develop and practice leadership skills with strategic intent." The authors, both of Center for Creative Leadership (CCL) fame, formulated their ideas about strategic leadership from their experiences facilitating CCL's Developing the Strategic Leader program.
They start off with a model that provides a visual representation of strategy as a learning process. A critical part of the model is the positioning of vision, mission, and values as a lens through which to view and evaluate external and internal conditions. The focus, then, is on company strategic drivers and the business and leadership strategies necessary to satisfy those drivers. We follow the model throughout the book.
The authors define strategic leaders as leaders who "...think, act, and influence in ways that promote the sustainable competitive advantage of the organization." In their perspective, strategic leadership is broad in scope, can have an impact over long periods of time, and often involves significant organizational change. This strategic leadership falters because of lack of focus, loose tactics, and focus on short-term success at the expense of long-term viability.
The book discusses SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis, visioning and reframing, all of which we've heard before, but Hughes and Beatty do a good job of tying it all in with strategic leadership. There are a number of good self-assessments and exercises to help us evaluate our strategic thinking, influencing, and acting skills, as well as real-life stories that provide practical examples of strategic leadership concepts. —J.L.