Griffith: How Leaders, Organisations Could Develop their Strategic Capability to Win

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London Business School trained Professor, Paul Griffith, in this interview shares insights into how leaders and their organisations could develop their strategic capability to win.

He also explains why executives should attend TEXEM UK’s forthcoming programme on Strategic Leadership For Optimised Organisational Performance In An Era Of Uncertainty. He, Professor Roger Delves,

Ambassador Charles Crawford and Professor Rodria Laline will help deliver the live sessions of this programme, which is slated to hold between the 21st of May and the 11th of June.

Why is Strategic Leadership important for organisations in challenging times?

Organisational success depends on making the best choices available – this is the art and science of strategy – determining the method for long-term success. More than ever in the 21st Century, understanding and charting the strategic choices for an organisation are fundamental to success. We live in the ‘exponential age’ where business rules are being rewritten, and all organisations need the rigour and creativity of strategic leaders to steer them to success. Of the top 10 most valuable businesses globally, only one is not an ‘exponential age’ company.

How could leaders and their organisations develop strategic capability?

The strategic capability of an organisation comes from its ability to understand the future business environment and imagine a creative roadmap to ‘win’. This requires leaders to develop their analytical and critical thinking skills, be able to ‘scan the external business horizon’ and make sense of it, craft a method to meet customers’ needs better than the competition and have the leadership skills to engage and inspire their people through this process of exploration and execution of strategy. In addition, even governmental organisations need to offer superlative service delivery for every naira invested by the taxpayer; otherwise, they will be scrapped or merged-See Nigeria’s oil and gas regulatory landscape post-PIA!

How can leaders spot, act on, and legitimise distant opportunities in turbulent times?

Leaders operating in the strategic domain need to be curious and constantly exploring the external business environment to spot the ‘weak signals’ of powerful new forces that will shape the world. Tapping into these weak signals early on allows for the organisation to experiment and consider the implications for their organisation – if appropriate, they can scale effectively to take advantage of these new forces ahead of their competition.

How could functional managers become effective strategic leaders?

Strategy plays at every level in the organisation. The key opportunity for functional managers is to become adept at ‘translating strategy into action’ – taking the organisation’s big goals and interpreting them effectively in their functional area. However, operational managers might aspire to general management in which there is a move from implementation to developing strategy. Thus, to be an effective strategic leader, you need to develop more conceptual skills. Those conceptual skills include having a holistic outlook and the capability to develop a vision and identify and quickly deploy resources to harness opportunities in the external environment. Also, they need to be conversant with the change in the role that is required as a strategic leader- I.e. operating at the central stage as when you lead an organisation compared to when you lead a division in which you lead from the wings. For example, you can transition from being problem solvers to agenda setters through capacity development, such as TEXEM’s forthcoming programme and mentors.

How could leaders bridge the gap between creating a direction and effective strategy implementation?

The key to effective strategy implementation is ‘alignment’. The strategic goals will only be delivered if the organisation is aligned with the appropriate leadership capabilities, processes and systems, people skills, organisational structure, and culture. Remember the powerful adage credited to Peter Drucker that ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast!’

From your work in the public and private sector, what can strategic leaders learn from the covid19 crises?

Some observations are that strategic leaders have been:
Clear on the purpose of their organisation- this has been the ‘touchstone’ for decision making, Able to let go of ‘old mental models’ and adapt/pivot to the new reality of the operating environment, Embrace a more innovative rather than mechanistic management approach.

Why should executives attend TEXEM, UK’s forthcoming programme?

Executives will engage in a powerful and engaging programme where they can develop strategic capabilities through exposure to key theories and frameworks and experiential learning processes using TEXEM’s dynamic and impactful methodology. The TEXEM methodology comprises Games, Simulation, Group Discussion and Role Play. Other tools deployed by TEXEM to optimise the learning experience are Observation, Case studies, Panels, Self-Reflection and competition.

The TEXEM, UK’s programme on Strategic Leadership For Optimised Organisational Performance In An Era Of Uncertainty content is specifically tailored to help leaders in developing countries to turn challenges into opportunities. This programme will also be delivered by world-class faculty who will share actionable insights that executives could apply directly to their organisation for immediate impact. The programme comprises self-study and live engaging sessions, which makes this programme flexible and suited for busy executives’ schedules.

Tell us about yourself

Professor Paul Griffith is one of the world’s first Management Professor to lead a team that launched a rocket to space twenty years ago. As Professor of Practice at Ashridge Executive Education at Hult International Business School, Paul works with hundreds of executives and organisations in strategy, innovation, digital transformation and customer-centricity.
He has led a range of custom programmes for national and global organisations in the private (including aerospace, financial services, pharmaceutical, manufacturing, retail, technology, telecoms, energy sectors) and public sector. Before joining the Ashridge team, he held leadership roles in product management, marketing, business development and corporate strategy for global enterprises, start-ups and turnaround businesses, including BT, FirstMark and was CMO at Datapoint. In addition, Paul has extensive international experience leading cross-cultural teams and global programmes serving the enterprise and SME markets.