A Great Strategy is Useless Without Great Leaders By Roderic Yapp

A Great Strategy is Useless Without Great Leaders

It doesn’t matter how great the strategy is if the leadership can’t execute it…

I have had a few requests from people asking to contribute to this blog. This is the first time that I have accepted though. I think JB (who wishes to remain anonymous) has a strong understanding of what is required to be a great leader and I am happy to have her contribute. Enjoy.

When it comes to achieving success in business, most people believe that the secret lies mostly in the strategy that the company comes up with. While strategy is vital to sustain growth in a highly competitive market, it is not as important as the people and brains behind the business.

“Why do you think the characters of people in leadership positions are often called into questions when a company is under controversy or crisis?”

Running a business without good leadership is like trying to reach new unchartered lands on a rudderless ship. Leaders create the organisational vision, purpose, and goals that everyone works towards achieving. They lead by example and inspire their teams to believe in the mission to achieve targets and milestones.

Research featured in the Harvard Business Review ‘Measuring the Return on Character’ has already proven that the character of business leaders can translate to bottom-line success. Leadership consultancy KRW International revealed that CEOs whose characters were highly rated by their staff had an average return on assets of 9.35% over a two-year period, which is almost five times more than those leaders with low scores with an average return on assets of just 1.93%.

So, what makes a good leader?

It may sound like a paradox, but a great leader isn’t someone who leads. It’s someone other people want to follow. They face challenging tasks, such as making tough decisions and act quickly without instilling a culture of fear among their employees.

They also consider mistakes and take them as steps for an individual’s growth, as well as the company’s. In fact, a true leader must frequently reflect upon their leadership experiences, whether good or bad. This trait is also a leadership trait that admissions committees look for in an MBA applicant. In a post by Alice van Harten on Menlo Coaching titled ‘Tackling the leadership question on your MBA application’, the author explained that “admissions committees want to see not just your successes, but also your resilience and ability to learn from mistakes.”

A great leader must be able to bounce back from an array of shocks, which is an increasingly in-demand business leadership skill.

Aside from being resilient, there are other qualities that make a good leader, as listed by Fast Company in their ‘The 5 Characteristics of Great Leaders’ article:

1. Flexible to changes – Leaders have to be able to change course when things don’t go as plan to ensure that the business will survive and be able to reach their goals.

2. Able to communicate – A person that lets their strength and personal character show while communicating will empower those who work for them. This will help their subordinates to define the company’s goals and know how to get there.

3. Courage, tenacity, and patience – He or she must be able to develop the courage to stand alone, the tenacity to not succumb to pressure, and the patience to keep fighting until they win.

4. Humility and presence – Leaders must be able to talk and listen to their employees on all levels, while showing respect to them by having integrity and being tough but fair.

5. Responsible – Blame must be first accepted by the leader while the accolades are spread out among the employees.

Build leaders

The most effective ways of creating strong and dependable leaders is by implementing a leadership development program at the office. An effective L&D program has a positive impact on organisational results, which is why it is regarded as a strategic priority. It should be offered for all levels and not just for senior management, as it develops a strong, sustainable leadership pipeline that creates opportunities for promoting from within the company.

An article on Business News Daily titled ‘To Build Better Leaders, Prioritise Learning and Development’ highlighted tips on how to increase the effectiveness of leadership development programs:

• Embody development – It must be embedded in your organisation’s culture and strategy with full support from the top executives.

• Ensure continuity – The programs need to be a continuous process and not just a one-time class or one-off event.

• Include everyone – Create programs for employees at all levels, including senior-most executives.

• Make it a priority – Don’t cut down or eliminate investments in L&D when the business is struggling financially.

At present, leaders wear so many different hats – from ensuring business goals are met while being the head cheerleader for the company. Great leaders bring out the best in their employees, who feel loyal, safe, and supported in their work environment. But, developing an effective leader that will bring success to the business is not easy. Companies must also invest time and effort to continuously develop leaders to sustain business success.


The Business Transformation Network has posted this article in partnership with the Leadership Forces blog: http://www.leadershipforces.com/great-strategy-useless/

This article was written for Leadership Forces by LeadwithJB



Roderic Yapp is a specialist leadership consultant and accredited coach. He supports major business transformations by improving the capability of leaders so that they can execute the transformation strategy.

Roderic is an International Coaching Federation professionally accredited coach who has specialist experience in developing people in sectors where ‘leadership failure’ usually results in death or critical injury.

He has significant experience in leadership development, major business transformations and operational excellence with companies such as Deloitte, Fidelity, HSBC, the John Lewis Group, Jaguar Land Rover, Urenco and the NHS.

Roderic Yapp