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Narrowing the Strategist Scarcity

How well is your company’s leadership equipped to manage transformative change?

By Cynthia Lescalleet

Strategist who can anticipate, navigate and manage the disruptive changes in today’s busi­ness climate are in high demand but low supply.

While companies once sought perspective from outside experts, advisors or consultants, many have recognized the importance of identifying, cultivat­ing, supporting and retaining the strategists within their ranks — and not only at the leadership level.

Techniques for fostering transformational think­ing are among the findings in “The Hidden Talent: 10 Ways to Identify and Retain Transformational Leaders,” a report by PWC in collaboration with Harthill Consulting and based on input from 6,000 C-suite executives over a 10-year period.

Only 8 percent of leaders are strategists equipped to drive change, the report notes. That figure has increased only 1 percentage point in the past decade, which was characterized by changes of “unprece­dented scale and complexity.”

Status quo stifles transformative thinking, the report says. Among the report’s recommendations for building strategist capabilities in the workplace are:

  1. Decentralize decision-making. Share the tools and precise information to enable new perspectives and points of view on challenges large and small.
  2. Establish and empower a collective culture that encourages innovation — beyond the R&D department.
  3. Address openly any conflict and failure that comes from the experimentation transformative thinking nets.
  4. Hire candidates who understand the internal cultural standards as well as possess the skills for the job.
  5. Invest in strategist professional development, such as life coaching, action learning and reflective thinking.
  6. Lead by example. If strategists are valued, make sure their traits exist in senior management. These characteristics include a multifaceted mindset; a reflective, experiential learning style; a management style of inquiry rather than command; and an ego that allows and appreciates opportunities for others.
  7. Cultivate ethos. Have a clear purpose, vision and values that support action.

For more than 25 years, Heather has been creating innovative content for a myriad of communities including business leaders, nonprofit, energy, health care, education and aviation. She has been with YPO since 2014 working currently in the content studio as the senior manager of organization communications.