Is it possible to be a strategic leader when you are not part of the top-management team? Why or why not?

mmcconkie's picture

If you're talking about company strategy, then the answer is no. You cannot be a strategic leader if you are not a leader of the company. Now you can still strategically lead your team, or if you are an individual contributor you can still strategically manage your own time and resources. You can even make strategic recommendations to your leaders - but that may be more difficult as you may not have all of the information they have. 

To be a strategic leader you would need the role power to carry out your strategy. So you are able to lead strategically according to your role. If you want to have influence beyond that, you would need to convince those who have the role power that your strategy is more effective than the alternative.

nicelyjj's picture
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mmcconkie is spot on with the lack of role power you have and that you could make strategic recommendations.

I'd recommend you leverage you job specific knowledge. Ask yourself, if I was my boss what would I improve. Then work to make those improvements a reality either through your own role specific ability or through leveraging relationships you have in the company.

A word of warning.. Be very careful not to show up your boss or further up the chain. As much as possible bring them into your ideas and see what improvements they can add.

As Mark is fond of quoting A Few Good Men.. Don't be galactically stupid. I have, many times, I don't recommend it...

Let us know how it goes!

Take care,


Kevin1's picture

It is easy  to ask questions like

  • How does this initiative support our strategic goals?
  • Which of these ideas will provide the greatest support for our strategic objectives?
  • Do we know if this is impacting our strategic goals? How?
  • Can we measure the impact of doing/not doing this on our strategic goals?  How?

It is also good management to be fully cognizant of the company's strategic goals and the execution strategy.  Ensuring you know how your own goals and that of your team aling with and support the company's strategic goals enables you to identify where misteps may occur, and what unexpected events may require.

And again, it is good management to tie changes and initiatives to strategic goals when announcing them to the team and throughout the execution.

Hope that helps