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Blog : 21st Century leadership (#1): Strategy is not just for the boardroom


21st Century leadership (#1): Strategy is not just for the boardroom

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By Jane Sunley, best-selling business author and Founder of Purple Cubed

My first blog of the year and of this new 21C Leadership series is, perhaps, a bit of a ‘start as you mean to go on’ cliché, though an important one I think.

A call came into the office recently from someone wanting to implement flexible working. Delving deeper, it was plain that the organisation wasn’t ready for this. Whilst people wanted it, or, to be more accurate, there was a lot of sickness and absence because people found the hours rigid and unmanageable, it was clear there was more fundamental stuff to fix first.  For example, the caller admitted that trust was at an all-time low. The team, whilst loyal to the mission of the organisation, had become very fed up with the command and control management style of the company founder. A new COO was attempting to change this – whilst managing the expectations and feelings. There was a lot to do.

It’s easy to see how busy managers often dive in with tactical solutions without fully thinking through the implications; examining the why, what it’ll take to bring about the changes that are sought, what needs to be in place first, who and what will be affected and, how this will be communicated and managed… and so on… All change is hard work and unless handled comprehensively and could well end up doing more harm than good.

Strategic thinking isn’t just a highfaluting boardroom activity – it has to be regular part of any leader’s daily activity.  I get that people are busy and don’t make time to think, though changing that will reap massive rewards. And don’t just take it from me – Prof. Henry (McGill University), argues that real strategies are rarely made in panelled conference rooms but are more likely to be cooked up informally and often in real time—in hallway conversations, casual working groups, or quiet moments of reflection on long airplane flights.

So let’s make 2017 the year of making time to think, delving under the solutions to make sure they really do achieve what they’re intended to.


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