Making and implementing strategic decisions are two of the most important challenges for any business and organisation. Every strategic decision (where to focus, how to compete and what to create or reject) has a huge impact on the prosperity of our business. 

#strategy #business #leader #leadership #challenges

By Mia Kollia
Translated by Alexandros Theodoropoulos

What is actually the impact of the negative elements that define our leadership profile on our strategy? It has been found that especially in difficult times when pressure reaches high levels and leaders are called upon to provide solutions to problems, many people are affected by deep-seated negative habits or pathologies which end up having a disproportionately negative impact on the quality and implementation of their strategies and choices.  

The four most common negative elements/characteristics are:

1. Excessive self-confidence
2. Impulsivity
3. Exaggerated Social Control
4. Insecurity

How does each of them work and what ways can help to better manage them in order to have a smoother function and therefore better results?

1. Excessive Self-Confidence

It is natural to treat self-confidence as a positive trait. But when our self-confidence is left unmanaged, we may lose the right path and find ourselves in a dead end. Overconfident leaders may tend to promise unrealistic results without counting the impact on their team or even the viability of a project. They can also prevent us from taking into account market warnings or warnings from our own team.

Whenever we feel that such an exaggeration overwhelms us, it is good to mitigate it:

- We must guard against the risk of creating an environment full of people who simply reinforce our views, whatever they may be. It’s healthier to ask for honest feedback, or even criticism, of our plans.

- An environment with a variety of views helps us. When creating teams, we must make sure to include people with different backgrounds, know-how and styles, so that we have a plethora of suggestions and ideas.

- A different perspective is always useful. By maintaining a network of advisers or other executives, we can take advantage of their distancing position to receive objective feedback for our decisions.

2. Impulsivity

One of the most common negative characteristics of a leader is impulsivity/impulsiveness. Many of us find the adrenaline rush that is created through the excitement of developing more and more ideas addictive. Such an approach, however, can prevent us from estimating how our long-term strategic goals will be affected and even worse, we may attain disproportionate resources and eventually lead to the exhaustion and abandonment of our plan. 

How can we protect ourselves and our work from these frustrations:

- We need to take our time. Even if an idea seems perfect to us, we need to allow some time to elaborate so that we can test if it’s stable enough to move on to the next step.

- The dangers of hurried plans are quite limited, if we have a team around us with more disciplined, realistic (even pessimistic) partners, who can contradict our demands.

- By including in our teams experts in data analysis we create a security wall around our business. They will take control of the viability of our plan and its effectiveness.


3. Exaggerated Social Control

On the contrary, there is the constant need for control, which is often expressed through micromanagement. Obsession with total control of every aspect of the project, applications, ideas and implementation, not only creates an environment of fear and business rigidity, but can lead to intense stress and exhaustion of leaders and their teams. Also, in these cases, the risk avoidance phenomenon is frequent, which can lead to the loss of many opportunities for potential development and change.

In order to find balance to move forward we need to learn to:

- Share data. Our team and executives are there to support our leadership vision and help our business thrive. The only way they can do that is if we give them all the data they need to make it happen.

- Take calculated risks. We must be able to free ourselves from the fear that creates introversion. We can experiment by taking some risks in areas that aren’t crucial and then applying what we have learned to the important stages of our strategy. 

- Promote dialogue. Without questioning our deep and structured knowledge, we should allow other voices to participate in shaping strategic ideas and practices. Two minds are better than one and the variety of voices can lead us to the next level of strategy. 

4. Insecurity

While all leaders may at some point go through a phase of crisis concerning their abilities, many run the risk of being trapped in a permanent sense of self-doubt. These feelings are detrimental to our business strategy and, in the long run, to our mental health. Diffuse insecurity is usually a sign of deeper unresolved issues, but it’s up to us to tackle them honestly, before they force us to make decisions that will set back or even cancel our previous good work.

Some suggestions on how to deal with such a crisis:

- Collaboration with a psychotherapist or coach. Experts know many ways that can help us overcome the issues that give rise to our problems. With the support of an expert, we can step forward easier and faster. 

- Redefining the data. Instead of thinking in terms of our failures - which leads us to make decisions based on fear - we should try to look at situations through the lens of our successes. How did we solve a problem correctly in the past? How can we apply proven successful practices to our current situation? 

- Reducing Catastrophizing. We must avoid the well-known unsafe practice of "catastrophizing anxiety" - a process in which we always assume the worst will happen in a given situation. Instead, we should try to use reliable and objective data to create realistic scenarios for our strategy.

In any case, it’s good to remember that whatever our disadvantages may be, by having a clear mind and a focused approach we can find imaginative ways to deal with their negative impact and operate in a positive way in our daily lives. The quality and the success of our future strategic choices are in our hands!