Natural born leaders

Jean-Luc Ambrosi

  • Author, marketer
Jean-Luc Ambrosi is an award winning marketer and recognised expert in branding and customer relationship management. He is the author of the new book, Branding to Differ, a strategic and practical guide on how to build and manage a successful brand.


Many business and marketing managers progressing to leadership positions face evolving their focus from operational matters to strategic decision making and planning.

We all know that people excelling at execution will not always succeed at strategy building or strategic decision making. So it begs the question: Can you learn to be a strategist or is it a skill you are born with?

Many research papers argue a lack of strategic thinking by senior managers is often a major shortcoming in organisations. With all the tools, training and methods available to managers today, this points to the fact that while the strategic process can be learned, the practice of strategy requires a natural incline to really succeed at it.

Of course, not all strategy makers are born the same, and there are many form of strategy building.  I am referring to the capacity to see forward, build visions and roadmaps. It is also important to differentiate strategic thinking from strategic planning, the latter being correlated to analytics decision based and organising rather than visioning. 

And this is often what is really required from managers. While great visionaries can be amazing leaders, they are the exception rather than the norm.

Unfortunately, people in organisations hold the belief strategic thinking sits above execution in some form of ‘royal’ hierarchy. This is the core of the issue: Managers want to be perceived as being ‘strategic thinkers’ because of the belief that true leaders are ‘strategic’, therefore equating leadership and strategy.

These are different skill sets and shouldn’t be confused. Leading people and creating visions are vastly different and originate from different parts of the cortex.

Take a deep look at your experience with leadership teams and you will find most leaders are not strategic thinkers; their core skills lie in driving people, driving execution and only sometimes in strategy. So the correlation between strategy and leadership falls short.

So when managers want to climb the corporate ladder they may find that they can be successful if they support strategy as opposed to dictating it. Where they need to use their skills is in translating strategies into corporate visions and implementation paths.

What’s the lesson here? If strategy is not your forte, don’t fake it. Instead, leverage your skills to enhance, plan and lead its successful accomplishment, keeping in mind that brilliant strategies often fail due to poor execution.

Tags: marketing careers, leadership

Show Comments
cmo-xs-promo

Featured Whitepapers

State of the CMO 2021

CMO’s State of the CMO is an annual industry research initiative aimed at gauging how ...

More whitepapers

Latest Videos

More Videos

Thanks for your feedback, Rabi. While we introduced the ROO concept using a marketing example, I also believe that it is pertinent to man...

Iggy Pintado

Introducing Return on Outcome (ROO) - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Thanks for your insight, Philip. Return On Outcome (ROO) requires balanced thinking with the focus on outcomes as opposed to returns.

Iggy Pintado

Introducing Return on Outcome (ROO) - Brand science - CMO Australia

Read more

Beautiful article.

Hodlbaba

15 brands jumping into NFTs

Read more

"Blue" is really gorgeous and perfectly imitates a human customer support operator. Personally, I won't order a chatbot development for m...

Nate Ginsburg

Why the newest member of BT’s contact centre is a chatbot

Read more

As today’s market changes rapidly, the tools we use change, and it is important to adapt to those changes to continue to succeed in busin...

Anna Duda

Report: 10 digital commerce trends here to stay

Read more

Blog Posts

How the pandemic revealed the antidote to marketing’s image problem

What does marketing truly ‘own’ in most organisations? Brand and campaigns, definitely. Customer experience? That remains contested ground.

Murray Howe

Founder, The Markitects

Still pursuing a 360-degree view of the customer?

On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” It may have been true in 1993 when this caption to a Peter Steiner cartoon appeared in the New Yorker. But after 30 years online, it’s no longer the case.

Agility in 2022

Only the agile will survive and thrive in this environment and that’s why in 2022, agility will need to be a whole-business priority.

Sam McConnell

Melbourne bureau chief, Alpha Digital

Sign in