Leadership Studies Research Paper on Strategic Leadership and Strategic Decision-Making

Strategic Leadership and Strategic Decision-Making

Abstract

Decision making is crucial to the various activities that an organization engages in. Thus, strategic leadership is crucial for an organization in as far as the process of making strategic decisions is concerned. Strategic leadership entails decision making across diverse cultures, personalities, agencies, desires, and agendas. Thus strategic leaders should be capable of making sound and reasoned decisions that impact on the internal and external issues of an organization. Strategic leaders should thus be capable of determining and competently choosing among several options available to them. Various scholars have have written extensively on the impact that strategic leadership has on the performance of an organization, including shaping strategies.  The premise of the current essay is to explore the values, cognitive models, experiences and personality styles exhibited by executives involved in making of strategic decisions within organizations, and how this could impact on strategic leadership in running a Hospice Facility.

Strategic Leadership and Strategic Decision-Making

            Decision making is a key component of the activities that various organizations engage in. Managers and chief executive officers (CEOs) are often confronted with the challenge of having to deal with multi-functional teams, high levels of uncertainty, and a dynamic competitive landscape (Beck & Wiersema, 2013).  Other than being required to make short-term tactical decisions, managers and CEOs are also increasingly being called upon to develop strategic decisions that will take care of the organization in the long-term (Carmeli, Tishler & Edmondson, 2013). Through the strategic decision-making process, organization executives can effectively assess the value and risk options at their disposal. In addition, they are also able to develop an elaborate plan of action.  Making strategic decisions calls for strategic leadership. However, we need to also note that defining strategic leadership is both a difficult and broad concept (Beck & Wiersema, 2013). Whereas it may not always be easy to describe or define strategic leadership in every detail, we can nonetheless, recognize when it is in action. The premise of this essay is to first examine into details the issue of strategic leadership as it impacts on organizational executives. In addition, the concept of strategic decision making will also be explored and its impact on the performance of an organization, including its effect on the plan of action taken by organizational executives. These issues will be examined with respect to a Hospice Facility.

            Strategic leadership entails  macroscopic expectation and miscroscopic perceptions. A lot has been written of strategic leadership, and this only adds to the complexity of understanding the concept (Carter & Greer, 2013).  At times, the models and methods used by various scholars to explain the concept of strategic leadership tend to be more complicated in relation to the practice and concept of strategic leadership. At the same time, it is also hard to excercise strategic leadeship, but this does not by any means imply that understanding it is equally hard.  Strategic leadership encompasses decision making across diverse agencies, cultures, personalities, desires, and agendas. It demands the development of desirable, acceptable, and feasible plans of action to the organization.  As such, strategic leadership involves the ability of a leader to make reasoned and sound decisions that impacts on the internal and external affairs of an organization.  This is crucial when running a Hospice Facility as the consequential decisions that the executive in charge is bound to make will often be accompanied by serious implications to the organization.

            Since the aim of a strategy is to connect means, ends, and ways, it follows therefore that strategic leadership encompasses choosing the best ways, determining the ends, and the use of the most effective means. An executive running a Hospice Facility needs to posses the vision and wisdom to develop and implement plans, in addition to developing consequential decision in the uncertain, complex, volatile, and strategic environment (Carter & Greer, 2013).  As noted earlier, strategic decision making involves the development and implementation of decision with long-term implications. They both shape and affect the direction of the entire organization. In opening and operating a Hospice Facility, this calls for the application of strategic decision by a strategic leader.

This is because a strategic leader possess the vision and  capability to develop and execute reasoned and sound decisions that will have a long-term impact on the organization. In addition, a strategic leader is better able to effectively channel the available resources to meet the needs of the organization. Strategic decision-making is a key pointer of the positions occupied by a strategic leader, their experience, and the prevailing organizational environment.

            Strategic leadership is required in the management of a diverse organization evnvironment such as a Hospice Facility. In this case, there is need to make the right decisions at the right time. Different scholars have given diverse interpretations to the concept of decision making. Decision making in the words of Kralj (2011) entails the ability to determine and  competently  choose among  several options on the basis of inclination.  Running a Hospice Facility effectively  demands that the manager demonstrate his/her ability to make effective decisions.  It all boils down to the leader’s ability to make concious decisions when an alternative course of action is called for. Decision making represents a process of sufficiently curtailing doubt and uncertainty regarding options to permit a sensible choice to be made (Talley 2011). The Chartered Institute of Management Accountants (CIMA 2009) notes that strategic decision making tend to have long-term effect on an organization as they shape and affect the direction taken by the entire business. In addition, CIMA (2009) contends that senior managers are responsible for making such strategic decisions.

            There is ample evidence in literature to suggest that strategic leaders are vital in not only shaping the strategy within an organization, but also in influencing the performance of such an organization.  In the absence of effective strategic leadership, this greatly reduces the probability of an organization to achieve satisfactory performance if and when it is faced with challenges. This is where the qualities of a strategic leader comes in handy. In the case of running a Hospice Facility, a strategic leader is often required to anticipate the various challenges he/she is bound to encounter, and be positioned and prepared for the future. Strategic leaders also focus and mobilize energy and resources on the elements of an organization that are likely to bring about success going forward. Therefore, running a Hospice Facility requires that the strategic leader demonstrate intuition, planning, and creativity to enable an organization reach its goals.

            Strategic leaders are tasked with the responsibility of offering strategic direction to the various divisions and departments in an organization, along with the people in it who will eventually be called upon to execute strategic decisions. If at all an orgaization such as a Hospice Facility is survive, perform and compete in an extremely competitive business environment, it is important for the leaders in such an organization to ensure that there is enough skill to implement the strategy and that it is fully aligned to the business environment.  This calls for strategic leaders who are knowledgeable about how their behaviours and decisions affect the strategy, organization, and the environment (LeRoux & Wright, 2010). In other words, strategic leaders must be in a position to confront the challenges and tensions that stand in the way of implementing effective strategies within the organization. To achieve this at the Hospice Facility, a strategic leader would often be required to align the organization at various levels between strategy, key people, the leadership team and environment, as well as engaging in collaborative porcesses (Manteghi & Zohrabi 2011).

            Up to now, most of the studies done to determine the impact on strategic leaders on organizational performance seems to incline more towards a financial context, as opposed to value creation in diverse arenas. Moreover, there appears to be limited research no how the experiences, individual attributes and beliefs of strategic leaders impact on their business actions, behaviours, and choices. Nonetheless, Carter and Greer (2013) report that there is ample evidence that leadership values and styles have a significant influence on corporate culture and organizational outcomes. Strategic leaders manifest several leadership styles including charismatic, transactional, and transformational aproaches, in addition to evolving styles like servant, responsible, and authentic approaches. In their research, Carter and Greer (2013) note that evaluation of the performance of strategic leaders using triple bottom line measures reveals evidence of enhanced charismatic, authentic, and transformational approaches. In their study, there is no evidence that the inclusion of enhanced measures of performance reduces financial performance.

            Another crucial finding by the research conducted by Carter and Greer (2013) is that the values possessed by strategic leaders frequently penetrate the organization culture to impact on outcomes.  Research findings conducted on corporate social responsibility programs in organizations reveal an association between the role played by the CEO is corporate social performance via the influence that he or she has on different stakeholders (Phillips, 2012). For instance, the commitment demonstrated by an organization to perceptibly deal with environmental issues could have emanated from the leader’s individual values. Therefore, in planning to start a Hospice Facility, it is important to ensure that the proposed organization symbolizes the vision and values of its leader.

            Most of the studies that have been conducted on strategic leadership seem to be more inclined towards leaders who hold the overall responsibility of a company, such as boards of directors, executives, and  top management teams. One of the most outstanding elements of strategic leadership is that organizations, by and large, reflect the values, beleifs, and characters of their top leaders (Carmeli et al, 2012). Besides values and cognition, contemporary strategic leadership also takes into account the contextual factors and psychological makeup of the leaders. The core of strategic leadership in running a Hospice Facility will therefore be gauged by the ability of the executive to create and maintain an adaptive and absorptive capacity of the organization. Strategic leadership theory also recognizes the role of a leader in making and influencing organizational decisions.  Strategic leadership theory holds that the cognitions, personalities, and values of top managers impacts on how they perceive information, how their field of vision is affected by their personalities, and how such leaders interprete information (Carter & Greer, 2013). Strategic leadership is thus a key component in the decision making process of top leaders.

            Since strategic leaders have a wide scope of influence on an organization, the decisions that they make have a significant impact on the organization.  In their review of the impact of strategic leadership on organizations in the 21st Century, Hitt et al. (2010) found out that many strategic leaders were unable to effectively handle environmental upheavals. The researchers attributed these environmental upheavals to short-term focus, unethical decision making, and hubris.  Yukl (2010) notes that one of the key arguments surrounding research into strategic leadership is the level of effect of CEOs on the effectiveness of organisations.  Critics contend that CEOs tend to exercise limited influence on organizations owing to the restrictions obligated to them by corporate culture, stakeholders, strong competitors, limited resources,  and unsympathetic economic conditions. For example, Hospice Facilities by and large, depend on contributions made by well wishers to fund their operations. Therefore, it might be limiting on the leader of such a facility when he/she does not have control of such resources and yet they have the ambition and vision to expand.  These critics also maintain that economic conditions and industry performance play an even crucial role on the success and effectiveness of an organization than even the CEOs.

            According to Franken, Edwards and Lambert (2009), executives are faced with five challenges in the execution of their strategies. First, they have to deal with consistent pressure from shareholders who are after increased profits. Accordingly, top business leaders are often compelled to redefine their strategy frequently. Organizations are also increasingly getting complex and this  too is a challenge to the executives.  They are also required to strike a balance between business performance and implementing difficult change programs.  Then there is the issue of managers who are not actively involved in the preliminary stages of strategic execution. Finally, executives have to deal with the challenge of securing the resources needed to implement the strategy.  These are issues worth of consideration by the executive of the propsoed Hospice Facility so that he/she is best prepared to deal with them accordingly. Nonetheless, Yukl (2010) maintains that research indicates that in spite of these challenges, top executives and CEOs could still have a  “a moderately strong influence on the effectiveness of an organization” (p. 401).

            In conclusion, strategic leaders are required to make strategic decisions that shape the focus and goals of an organization. The complex nature of organizations means that leaders are now required to be ingenious in ensuring that the limited resources can be utilized to achieve the set objectives. In the case of a Hospice Facility, it is important for the leader to ensure that they find ways of running the facility with the limited funds available even as competition becomes stiff. Since strategic leadership symbolizes the values, beleifs, and characters of an organization’s top leaders, there is need to ensure that such leaders are capable of making strategic decisions in such a manner as to effectively deal with high levels of uncertainty encountered within an organization. Also, they must be able to deal with the challenge of with multi-functional teams, as well as have the capability to develop and execute long-term strategic decisions.

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