Leadership and Strategic Thinking

ESEUNE Business School Weekly Article

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Enrique de la Rica

Enrique de la Rica has a Bachelor degree in Information Science from the University of the Basque Country ( Spain), where he studied the Ph.D. courses in Communication Studies. Enrique got a MBA from Eseune Business School (Bilbao, Spain). He has done postgraduate courses and specialization in different institutions, such as the Executive Business Program at Georgetown University (Washington DC, USA).


Reading the newspaper or watching the news just for a few minutes we can extract an important conclusion: today, more than ever, strategists are needed.

The rapid development of world events, the changes in the intensity of different geopolitical conflicts, the growth of threats within and outside the territory (terrorism), the existence of different wars, the political tensions inside many states, the huge technological advances (telecommunications, biotechnology, genetic engineering, space transportation ...), they transformate the values of a society.

Thus, nowadays more than ever, organizations need strategists who can understand the present to anticipate the future. The strategy must be share for the whole organization and it must be present in the minds of every member. Therefore, the strategy must come from the leader. The key of the success of the best known multinationals (Toyota, Dell, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, etc.) is the existence of a strategy known and shared by all employees, who conceive and implement action plans that stem directly from this strategy. Strategic thinking is generated by the best minds of the organization and inspires the development and execution of every action.

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In the organization,which are the 4 main factors of the strategy to transmit to everyone?

First, the leader must take into account that has always to be a good strategist, because strategic thinking requires constant mental gymnastics.

Second, the strategist must develop a systematic thinking. Kenichi Ohmae (author of "The Mind of the Strategist" and "The Next Global Stage," among other publications about Strategy) says that the strategist must dismember the problem situation in all its parts. Once we know the meaning of each part, we join them and from this point, we develop strategies for our business. The conclusions and solutions obtained in this way differ from those would have been achieved by linear thinking.

Thirdly, the strategic thinker must avoid the short term and concentrate and plan in a medium – long term. Gary Hamel (from London Business School) and C.K. Prahalad (from University of Michigan) indicate that most of the managers works under everyday life pressure and are influenced by a short-term mentality. So they conceived strategic plans in which they spent most of the time on trying to solve the current problems, instead of analyzing the future business opportunities.

And last but not least, the strategic responsibility of the CEO does not mean only the ability to anticipate the future. It requires leadership, motivation, credibility and effective communication: the message must be perfectly understood by everybody. All of these skills can be summarized in one concept: commitment. Without it, all other activities of the strategic process (analysis, SWOT,...) are a waste of time.

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