Book Reviews,  Leadership,  Living as a Leader,  Organizational Leadership

“Strategic Planning is Not Strategic Thinking”

As part of my work in re-articulating the SpringHill vision I’ve turned, once again, to one of the best books on leadership ever written The Leadership Challenge by James Kouzes and Barry Posner. In the section titled Inspiring a Shared Vision Kouzes and Posner write…

“Strategic planning often spoils strategic thinking because it causes managers to believe that the manipulation of numbers creates imaginative insight into the future and vision. This confusion lies at the heart of the issue: the most successful strategies are visions; they are not plans. McGill University professor Harry Mintzberg explains that planning represents a “calculating” style, while leaders employ a “committing” style – one that ‘engages people in a journey. They lead in such a way that everyone on the journey helps shape its course. As a result, enthusiasm inevitably builds along the way. Those with a calculating style fix on a destination and calculate what the group must do to get there, with no concern for the members preferences. But calculated strategies have no value in and of themselves…Strategies take on value only as committed people infuse them with energy.’

Leadership that focuses on a committing style is what leadership scholars have called transformational leadership. Transformational leadership occurs when, in their interactions, people ‘raise one another to higher levels of motivation and morality. Their purposes, which might have started out as separate but related, as in the case of transactional leadership, become fused…. But transforming leadership ultimately becomes moral in that it raises the level of human conduct and ethical aspiration of both the leader and the led, and thus it has a transforming effect on both.'”

I’ve taken these words to heart and am using them as guides as I lead SpringHill in the re-articulating of its vision.


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