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Overcoming barriers to integrating strategy and leadership

Paul J.H. Schoemaker (Mack Institute for Innovation Management, the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA and Decision Strategies International, Conshohocken, PA, USA and London, UK)
Steven Krupp (Decision Strategies International, Conshohocken, PA, USA)

Strategy & Leadership

ISSN: 1087-8572

Article publication date: 16 March 2015



As uncertainty increases, business strategies need more frequent adjustments which in turn requires leaders who excel at timely external and internal alignment. We describe six challenges such leaders need to master.


The six leadership abilities profiled in this article are based on a conceptual model that was pre-tested with selected executives. Using factor analysis and other standard tests of validity, we refined an assessment questionnaire and identified remedies. It has been taken by some 30,000 managers from diverse companies around the world.


Our main findings are that strategic leadership can be deconstructed into more basic elements and that leaders can learn to better practice its skills, habits and attitudes once they know where they are personally weakest. Various challenges complicate better integration of strategy and leadership in the heat of battle but successful leaders conquer these by honing six essential capabilities. These are the ability to anticipate, challenge, interpret, decide, align and learn. We illustrate each with examples and then provide practical advice for leaders wishing to increase their strategic acumen.

Practical implications

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The skills that comprise strategic leadership in a world of increasing uncertainty should be viewed as a self-reinforcing system. The leadership challenge, which involves practicing six abilities while overcoming barriers to them, allows the best innovators to win the long game while making frequent tactical adjustments along the way in response to surprise and uncertainty.



Schoemaker, P.J.H. and Krupp, S. (2015), "Overcoming barriers to integrating strategy and leadership", Strategy & Leadership, Vol. 43 No. 2, pp. 23-32.



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