Future challenges for business organisation will vary in so many ways compared to the past. Organisations in this 21st century are working on different ways of doing things to stay in the competition or beat it. In this fast moving and fluctuating economic environment, finding market opportunities and developing a competitive edge for any organisation is critical and it involves lots of executive time and effort. To ensure sustainable growth for any company, the leaders of any organisation should plan strategically and tactically to meet the needs and wants of the customer in the long run and increase the shareholder value.
In this context, leadership in modern organisations is a challenge in this dynamic social and cultural environment. As Elkin(2007) describes, strategies for organisational wellbeing is their ability to understand what should be done today and tomorrow to live up to customer expectations and prosper in the long run. Jonson et al (2008) argue that historical and cultural perspectives of an organisation are vital to understand the opportunities and the threats in the business environment. So, it is clear that the culture of an organisation is the central thesis of organisational strategy and implementation.
To ensure successful Strategy formulation, implementation and the evaluation/measurement, need right talent within the organisation. This is where leadership of the organisation comes handy. Giving employees a purpose, directing them willingly to it and creating a feeling of importance and ownership is very important to drive the organisation towards the super ordinate goal. Therefore, it is evident that leadership in an organisation is vital in organisational development and change to achieve strategic objectives. "Strategic leadership is the ability to shape the organisation's decisions and deliver high value overtime, not only personally but also inspiring and managing others in the organisation." - Lynch R (2009: 9)
Lynch's clearly state about delivering high value or increasing shareholder value, ensuring individual and team performance in a stressed atmosphere where the change is the name of the game plan. Therefore, the author of this paper attempts to understand the concepts of organisational strategy, leadership and culture and how each of these concepts and theories can be applied in a practical scenario. Specifically, the author attempts to understand and clarify how organisational culture influence leaders in forming and performing organisational strategies.
"Strategy is the direction and scope of an organisation over the long term, which achieves advantage in a changing environment through its configuration of resources and competences with the aim of fulfilling stakeholder expectations" - Johnson et al (2008: pg 3)
In simple term literature describes strategy as a long term plan, a course of action to achieve competitive advantage, a path to get from where they are to where they want to be. Elkin (2007) describes strategy as a process of positioning an organisation in its environment to achieve and sustain competitive advantage profitably. Whereas, McGee et al (2005) in their chapter on the concept of strategy, discussing Chandler's (1963) definition on strategy concludes that it as the determination of basic long -term goal and objectives, and the action plan and the allocation of resources to achieve them. Mintzberg (1994) defines strategy as a set of interrelated decisions to achieve articulated results and Appelbaum (1991:pg.41) definition characterises strategy:
"As a coherent grouping of actions intended to gain distinct advantage over competition"
To achieve business stability and growth in this competitive business environment, even a sole trade organisation cannot do things on an adhoc basis. The Pereto Principle (80 - 20 rule) applies to products, customers and markets as well. Therefore, the leaders should plan to invest in 20% value adding markets. This requires logical and creative thinking in place and some extra effort from leaders. According to Jonson et al (2008), Elkin (2007) and Juran (1994), to ensure sustainable growth and to enhance shareholder value, today's organisation should have a long term direction, and a course of action to bridge the competition.
Companies who make occasional improvements at a pedestrian pace cannot possibly hope to keep up with their competitors; they need to set ambitious goals - Juran (1994.pg 48)
Saying this Juran (1994) further emphasises the need for set goals to keep up with their competitors. Lafley ( 2009), chairman Procter & Gamble (P & G) says that they are purpose driven and values and principle led, he further state that is why they could navigate through two world wars, regional, local wars, periodic panics and recessions. Having formulated five main strategies (Product, Operations, social responsibility, employees, stakeholders - www.pg.com) for P&G, they emphasis the need for a long term direction for survival and sustainable growth and is a living example for a strategy driven organisation.
Basic Dynamics of Strategy
"Every organisation has to manage its strategies in main three areas;
The organisation's internal resources;
The external environment within which the organisation operates;
The organisation's ability to add value to what it does. Lynch R ( 2009:52)
And further, he describes five key elements of strategy which are needed for value addition and create the competitive edge over competitors; those are sustainability, process, competitive advantage, the exploitation of linkages between the organisation and the environment, vision. McGee et al (2005) introduces main three factors that control organisational plans, decisions and actions. In his model of basic dynamics in strategy, he explains that goals are derived considering external environment [PESTEL, Five forces Model (Porter, 1980)] and resources that an organisation has.
Strategy formulation, execution and evaluation are highly integrated with organisations external and internal environments. Johnson et al (2008) also takes kind of similar approach and believes them as basic dynamic of organisational strategy.
"Leadership is fundamental aspect of strategic management and paramount in strategy implementation" - Sherman .et al (2007:pg.167)
Leadership is the ability to influence, motivate individuals and teams to get the contribution towards organisational strategy willingly. (House et al, 1997; Blanchard, 2007). These are the qualities that Nelson Mandela got even after being in the jail for 28 years (www.anc.org.za, New York Times, 1990), Mother Theresa was another example with a great passion to motivate and persuade people for the end state (nobelprice.org). Hughes and Beatty (2005) state that individuals and teams become strategic as they think, act, influence towards sustainable competitive advantage and he further emphasis that Strategic thinking, Strategic acting and strategic influencing are key skills for a leader. As an example, Martin Luther King's "I have a Dream" changed the America's direction as a country in terms of culture, strategy as well as leadership. It is his acumen as a leader, ability to shape decisions to deliver high value which created this atmosphere (Lynch, 2009). When looking at great leaders in the past and the future, it is clear that the self belief, confidence, courage, integrity and being yourself, with skills (Goffee and Jones, 2000) have guaranteed the sustainability as a nation or any formal or informal organisation.
In most of the organisations in today's business context, interest of employees and employers are not aligned. As success highly depends on human capital readiness, it is leader's responsibility and the ability to get the right commitment from all in the ship.