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Leadership is an important aspect of an organization that always defines its ability to achieve success in various contexts. According to Thompson, Strickland and Gamble (90), offering leadership is one of the most challenging tasks that require skills and knowledge on how to manage people.
A good leader must be able to make employees believe in a given course and to work towards achieving a given objective without any serious resistance. The position requires someone with the capacity to inspire followers even in cases when they feel demoralized. A leader should be in a position to come up with ways of addressing issues within an organization in a manner that will be convincing to all the stakeholders.
Strategy crafting and implementation are some of the most important roles of a leader as seen in the interview with the chief executive of Dunkin’ Donuts. In this research, the focus is to determine the importance of leadership in crafting and executing of strategies.
Importance of Leadership in Crafting and Executing Strategy
According to Hough (47), many organizations that are successful largely owe their achievement to effective leadership. Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the leading brands not only in New England area of the United States, but also in the entire world. The company experienced massive success following the ascent of Nigel Travis to the position of chief executive officer of the firm in 2008.
He helped the firm to expand, and currently, Dunkin’ Donuts is one of the largest coffee houses in the world. He was able to come up with strategies that were meant to maximize on the strengths of the firm, and limit its weaknesses as demonstrated in the interview. This is a true reflection of what a leader is expected of when it comes to crafting and executing strategies.
Role of a leader in crafting a strategy
The interview with the chief executive of Dunkin’ Donuts gives an insight on the role of a leader in crafting a strategy. It is important to understand the role of a leader in crafting strategies within an organizational setting.
Hough (37) says that employees within an organization are always waiting to follow instructions given to them by their leader. It is the role of the leader to craft strategies which will form the basis of instructions to be issued to the employees. Crafting a strategy starts by understanding the environmental forces that may influence the normal operation of a firm.
These environmental factors can broadly be classified as internal and external environmental forces. The internal environmental factors are the strengths and weaknesses of a firm that have direct or indirect impact on its operations. A leader must have the information about the internal environment of the firm he or she is leading.
This information will come from various departments such as finance, marketing, production, procurement, and logistics units. A good leader should always ensure that he or she gathers information from all relevant departments regularly in order to identify the organization’s strengths and weaknesses.
When the needed information about the internal environment is collected, the leader will need to have the information about the external environment. In this respect, the leader will need to understand the opportunities and threats in the market. The external environment presents a series of opportunities that a firm will need when developing strategies.
Opportunities presented by the emerging technologies, expansion of the middle class, growing economic environment, and the political environment should be tapped appropriately in order to maximize the profitability of the firm. On the other hand, the market has some threats that the management must deal with in order to ensure that its normal operations are not affected as shown in the interview.
The market competition, insecurity, economic downturn, and the changing tastes and preferences are some of the threats that the leader should be aware of when managing an organization.
While information about the internal environmental factors can be collected by receiving regular reports from the relevant departmental heads, external factors can only be obtained through research. This means that the organization will need to conduct regular research about external environmental forces.
It is only after collecting all the relevant data that a leader can initiate the process of crafting a strategy. The strategy will be based on the information gathered about the internal and external business environment. As Hough (69) notes, strategy formulation is a process that involves teamwork. It is not a process where the leader views the information provided to him and makes an individualistic strategy.
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All the departments must first be allowed to discuss issues that affect their units, and make their suggestions on how these issues can be addressed. The departmental heads will then meet the chief executive with their suggestions. The role of the leader is to listen to these suggestions, and with the help of other departmental heads, craft strategies which are in line with the suggestions presented before the panel.
The leader will need to be aware of the constraints that may make some suggestions be modified to reflect the financial capacity of the firm, and time available for the implementation. A leader must always remain flexible when crafting policies. He or she must remain realistic to changes which are taking place within the internal and external environment in order to come up with effective strategies.
Role of a leader in executing a strategy
From the interview, it is clear that a leader plays a pivotal role in strategy execution. According to Thompson, Strickland and Gamble (75), policy implementation is one of the most important tasks in an organization. The policy crafted in the above stage is just a piece of instructions of what should be done. An organization can only achieve success if it is able to execute its strategies in a superior manner.
As a leader, one would need to take a supervisory role in ensuring that the strategy is executed as effectively as possible. However, it is a fact that the leader may not be present in all the departments at all the times.
There are administrative tasks that the leader is expected to undertake, and for this reason, it is necessary to delegate some of the duties to other junior leaders who will be able to supervise the implementation of the strategies. As the interviewee noted, the departmental heads will be directly responsible to the chief executive officer.
The strategies formulated will be handed over to the departmental heads who will be directly involved in their implementation. The strategies will need to be broken down into specific tasks that should be undertaken by specific individuals. It is the responsibility of the departmental heads, with the help of his or her supervisors, to break down the strategies into tasks.
The chief executive will need to review the progress made by each department in implementing the strategies. The leader should encourage close coordination between the departments of the organization during the implementation process in order to ensure that there is unison. It is also the responsibility of the leader to set the parameters that will be used to measure success in the execution of strategies by each of the departments.
The departmental heads should be aware of these parameters. They should know what the leader is expecting from them, and the timeline that each task should be accomplished.
The leader should ensure that he or she conducts regular review of the performance of all the departments in order to confirm the reports given by heads of the departments. This way, all the departmental heads will be aware that they have a responsibility to all the stakeholders.
From the interview, it is clear that a leader has an important role in crafting and executing strategies within an organization. Although the leader is not directly involved in the collection of data and implementation of the crafted strategies, he or she is always the driving force that ensures that everything is done correctly. A leader is expected to initiate the process of collecting information about the internal and external environment.
He or she will then lead a team that will come up with strategies that seek to align the internal environment with the forces in the external environment. In the process of executing the strategies, he or she is expected to offer moral and material support to the team involved in the implementation process.
Hough, John. Crafting and executing strategy: Text, readings and cases. New York: McGraw-Hill Higher Education, 2011. Print.
Thompson, Arthur, Alonzo Strickland, and John Gamble. Crafting and Executing Strategy: The Quest for Competitive Advantage : Concepts and Cases. New York: McGraw-Hill/Irwin, 2005. Print.