Strategist Developmental Perspective

Symphony by indydina & Mr wonderfuls photostream ccThis blog seven part blog series talks about Leadership 2050  and the leadership mindset necessary for success in the future. We walk through what the future of leadership will look like then walk you through the story of Jill as she moves through the developmental perspectives. Growth through the perspectives is a linear process in that we progress through each step without skipping stages.

In the post last week we saw Jill growing through the Individualist Developmental Perspective. We now see Jill break into a very pivotal stage of the developmental path: the Strategist. Strategist thinking is effective at balancing all critical areas of decision-making. At this stage, leaders are capable of balancing both short and long-term decisions, maintaining the needs of multiple stakeholders, and effectively weighing the need for structure while remaining flexible and responsive. The strategist is capable of giving clear direction as well as responding to the ongoing stream of new information and the inevitable disruptions to plans. The strategist instills confidence in others while acknowledging their own personal limitations.

Let’s continue with Jill’s story of expanding growth.

At age 42, Jill has joined a global consulting firm as a Partner. On a daily basis she is involved in helping leaders and their organizations become more effective and sustainable. Jill and Matthew sold their large house and invested in a modest home with great sun for Jill’s garden. They retrofit the house with a gourmet kitchen so that friends can join them for meals cooked with fresh local food. Jill often works from home which fits her lifestyle that now values balance.  

She works with others who have similar values who also appreciate the flexibility she provides them. Randy comes by often and is her mentor and friend. Jill feels a meaningful commitment to her life as she dedicates herself to improving organizational effectiveness of her clients. She also works to create jobs paying fair wages and having a positive impact on the community and the world. She has moved from working as a volunteer to be the Board Treasurer of the nearby nature preserve. She leads the nature preserve to expand their mission to include children’s wilderness experiences and creating a community garden. She believes that her volunteer time should have as much impact as possible and board work allows her to meet an organizational need that is not otherwise available to her.

When Jill thinks about her marriage, she is grateful that she and Matthew decided to work through their relationship challenges. She recognizes that while the counseling and personal changes were difficult, he has played a critical role in her life and she still loves him for his willingness to support her during her transition. She is excited to see Matthew make several changes in how he sees himself in the world as a result of their counseling such as his willingness to simplify their living arrangements and move to a much smaller home. At this stage, Jill has learned to value her own thought processes and time alone enough that twice a year she deliberately spends one week at a cabin in a nearby state park with her Journal. Matthew joins her in this experience during which he hikes and reads. During this time, Jill evaluates what she is doing with her life and what needs to change. She thinks about her different strengths and contemplates if she is overusing any, as she did when she was younger. She appreciates the many opportunities afforded to her to be logical, analytical, creative, strategic, and tactical. 

Jill’s perspective is moving toward thinking about the global implications of issues. She finds that she is now considering how systems fit together and she wants to reach out to connect her organization to others in other countries to make the best use of global resources. She is now representing the United States at the World Economic Forum. She is strengthening her network of connections and is eventually offered a role with a global organization. The opportunity comes from an initiative emerging from the World Economic Forum. Her ability to think in a twenty-year time horizon as well as her cultural sensitivity makes her effective in this new role. She begins working closely with the Gates Foundation and other prestigious groups and finds her organization is making a significant impact in areas that are important to environmental sustainability and global peace.

Jill continues to meditate, run, eat in a healthy manner, and do yoga. She has found that taking care of her body, mind and spirit allows her to function effectively in very stressful situations. Her meditation has worked to strengthen her focus so she is not pulled off track nearly as much by challenges that come up on a daily basis. Additionally, exercising helps her burn off the frustration of the day and she feels refreshed and calm as well as sensing an increase in her stamina.

According to an HBR article, Seven Transformations of Leadership by Torbert and Rooke, 4% of leaders test at the Strategist level. Characteristics include:

  • Perceives systematic patterns and long term trends with uncanny clarity.
  • Can easily differentiate objective versus subjectively biased events.
  • Exhibits a strong focus on self-development, self-actualization, and authenticity.
  • Pursues actualizing personal convictions according to internal standards.
  • Management style is tenacious and yet humble.
  • Understands the importance of mutual interdependence with others.
  • Well-advanced time horizon: approximately fifteen – twenty years with concern for legacy.

In summarizing the Strategist perspective, it is important to note that leaders at earlier developmental perspectives can be very effective. The Strategist perspective becomes most important when leading large complex organizations or activities. It is not necessary for a CEO to be solidly grounded in the Strategist perspective if he or she has an advisor who is.   Often a CEO role attracts leaders who demonstrate the Achiever perspective while others who have different life goals may fill roles that are less visible in a trade-off that may allow for a greater balance in life.

To become a more innovative leader, you can begin by taking our free leadership assessments and then enrolling in our online leadership development program.

Check out the companion interview and past episodes of Innovating Leadership, Co-creating Our Future, via iTunes, TuneIn, Stitcher, Spotify, Amazon Music, Audible,  iHeartRADIO, and NPR One.  Stay up-to-date on new shows airing by following the Innovative Leadership Institute LinkedIn.

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Photo credit: Indydina and Mr Wonderful

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  1. […] This emerging cultural stage of development structurally correlates to the Strategist leader. […]

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