Are you a strategic leader?

The following 10 traits are common strategic leadership characteristics and help these individuals motivate and inspire their teams to produce better business results. These components of strategic leadership make up the key traits of strategic leaders and how they contribute to their success. These are 10 characteristics of a good leader and by following the example of these strategic leadership style qualities you can improve your efficiency as a leader.

Strategic Leadership quote: Open-minded leaders are always curious of possibilities and hungry for new ideas.

1) Open-Minded

Being a strategic leader means you have to be curious and hungry for new ideas.

Brilliant insights will come from others around you. You have to be willing to hear uncomfortable things from customers and stakeholders. Being strategic means you can reflect on ideas that conflict with your current beliefs and understanding. It doesn’t mean you accept every piece of information, but it does mean you consider and explore new and even non-conforming ideas objectively and investigate interesting possibilities.

Traits of a leader: Courageous leaders inspire innovation & challenge others to take risks

 2) Courageous

Strategic leaders understand at a deep level that current success and current practices won’t last forever. A major role of a strategic leader is to be courageous and take the steps necessary when needed.

Anything and everything has the potential to become calcified and irrelevant to customers and stakeholders. Strategic leaders face the challenge of changing what feels comfortable. They know that current success can lead to complacency so they inspire innovation and challenge people to experiment and take risks; they see failure as part of this process. They manage the criticism and second guessing of others who live in the comfort zone.

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Leadership Trait: Disciplined leaders focus on forces that will affect future results

3) Disciplined

Strategic leaders must understand that discipline is essential for structure and order.

Discipline is the ability to focus on longer-term priorities and forces that will affect future results. It is the ability to make strategic thinking and actions a regular part of your daily routine. Depending on the nature of the position or industry, disciplined leaders invest 10% to 30% of their time and energy on strategic activities.

Leadership Trait: Strategic Leaders endure while others give up

4) Endurance

Leading a bold new strategic transformation can be hard work and even arduous at times.

Strategic leaders have the drive and stamina needed when change becomes elusive, difficult, and even painful. If strategy were easy, everyone would be adaptable, innovative, and prepared for the future. Strategic leaders have developed the mental and physical muscle to produce results when others might give up prematurely on a plan.


Leadership Trait: Inspiring leaders influence direction, sell new ideas, inject fun and celebrate progress

5) Inspiring

Strategic leaders enroll others in the journey. The famous strategic leaders that we look up to are known for their inspirational leadership quality.

They get others to sign up voluntarily and unlock that extra discretionary energy needed to move a strategic agenda forward. If you don’t inspire others and create a critical mass, people will resist and push back on ideas and plans that are intended to improve their lives. Strategic leaders are able to sell new ideas, help others see the value and influence the team’s direction. They celebrate progress, ease the tension and inject fun into the process.

Traits of a leader: Strategic leaders hold themselves and others accountable for commitments6) Accountable

Strategic leaders are willing to hold themselves and others accountable for commitments.

They are not harsh, but they make expectations explicit. They know that people drop the ball on occasion, make mistakes, and have letdowns. This is normal, but strategic leaders are persistent: they troubleshoot, offer support and accommodate weaknesses, but in the end, they require performance. If you want to be a member of a strategic leader’s team you have to step up, have positive intentions, and ultimately deliver your fair share of the effort to achieve the target.

Traits of a leader: Insightful leaders see the faint signals of opportunity and early warning signs of storms ahead7) Insightful

Strategic leaders scan the environment for clues and patterns about the forces and events that could reveal opportunities or pose threats to their team’s success.

They may not always be the first to see new trends and developments, but they work at it and try to see the faint signals of opportunity and early warning signs of storms ahead. Good leaders are aware and have their sources for intelligence related to their profession and industry, technological game changers, and social events that will shape the future. They know that they live in a “VUCA” world (volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous) and they look for ways to exploit both headwinds and tailwinds

Leadership traits: Strategic coaches focus on building skill sets that propel future growth8) Strategic Coaches

Strategic leaders understand that strategy is driven by critical competencies and capabilities.

In order to gain traction and momentum, people have to be knowledgeable and experienced. Strategic leaders are teachers and developers. They create opportunities for learning and growth. Strategic coaching is different than normal operational coaching. Strategic coaching focuses on building skill sets and behaviors that are needed to propel future growth and to create the next generation of practices.

Traits of a leader: Strategy is a team sport - Collaborate9) Collaborative

We always like to say that strategy is a team sport.

Great leaders who are proactive and forward thinking understand that in order to formulate a direction and to gain momentum they will need an army. Strategic leaders need a team of people who are forward looking and willing to shape the future within their sphere of control. Great strategic leaders create a mosaic of strategic plans that fit together and that are lead by many members of the team.

Traits of a leader: Great Leaders keep perspective, maintain clarity and remain calm when storms brew10) Perspective

Great leaders know how to adapt by maintaining clarity of purpose.

They have a vision for the future and passion to drive them there. They remain calm when storms brew and they know that disruptions and adversity will be part of the journey. These leaders know they can’t be all things to all people. They make difficult choices and know when to say “no” to even good ideas that just don’t make sense right now or won’t add enough value to the strategy. The ability to make trade-offs and choosing what not to do is just as important as knowing what to do.

How many leadership traits did you have? Being a strategic leader doesn’t have to be difficult. Stick to the basics and make sure you’re asking the right questions. If you’re looking for a way to improve your strategic leadership skills checkout CMOE’s Strategic Leadership Workshop.

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About the Author
Chris Stowell
Christopher Stowell is currently serving as CMOE’s Vice President of Sales and Marketing where he works with multi-national organization to develop their people. His special interests lie in coaching teamwork, strategy, e-learning, and assessment design, and delivery. Chris has a special talent in helping companies assess their organizational effectiveness and identifying key issues and opportunities in order to advance their performance and achieve long term results. Additionally, he has extensive experience in designing, coordinating, and facilitating customized adventure based experiential training events for high performance teams.

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