Thursday, May 30, 2013

Your Strategy needs a Strategy:Depends on Leadership Types

The article Your Strategy needs a Strategy by Reeves, Love and Tillmanns does an effective job of describing the four types of strategy styles: Classical, Adaptive, Shaping, and Visionary.  The article goes on to describe that each style works well in certain types of industries at certain times.  Moreover, it articulates a message that these types of styles is up to the executive to decide depending on the situation.  I buy into to the fact that certain styles have better success in certain industries.  I also buy into the fact that it centers on the executive.  What the article may allude to, and does not address directly is the leadership types that can decide when to use these strategy styles: the transactional leader versus the transformational leader (George MacGregor Burns Leadership).  In essence it all comes down to leadership.

I have spent all of my career in the public arena.  My first two years working for the State House of Representatives, the next six for the City of Pittsburgh Planning Department, and now working as the Government Affairs Manager for the Pittsburgh Water and Sewer Authority.  Through my experiences I have seen all four of theses style being used effectively, and ineffectively.  I have seen them being used at the wrong time, and also a lack of leadership.  The test of a effective leader is being able to tap into one of the strategy styles at the correct time. 

George MacGregor Burns book Leadership takes this article to the next level.  It is not only when to use the four styles, but I would argue depending on the type of leader you are would depend if you even have the style in your tool box.   To compare the two we must define a transactional vs. transformational leader.

A transactional leader might fall within the strategy styles of classical and adaptive.  He/she might realize to pay for a road you have to raise permit fees, or you may have to institute a new type of savings-trust to move the organization forward.  I believe by the definitions provided this would fall into the Classical and Adaptive styles of strategy. 

A transformational leader has the ability to take the needs of people, and turn them into wants and desires.  Taking what might classical, moving it beyond adaptive, and truly moving to shaping and visionary.  You cannot be transformational without having the ability to be a transactional leader.  In terms of strategy the transactional leader has classical or adaptive strategy which putting yourself in a position to be shaping and a visionary.  This closes the loop that the article does not talk about.  It is recognizing the situation, but also realizing what type of leader you are, when to use the types of leadership for the betterment of your organization.      

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