Strategy and the Purpose Driven Leader Stanford Business Brief with Cynthia Montgomery

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In the past quarter century, countless articles have been written about strategy, but almost none about the leadership essential for doing it well. Strategy has been transformed from an art to a science—but science by itself is not enough. Cynthia Montgomery argues for bringing people back into the mix. Though you start with ideas, you need leaders to erect a company that brings these ideas to fruition. Leadership is required to define your purpose and form a management model that carries it out.

One thought Montgomery suggests is to think about death: the death of your business. What would the world be like without it? Would it be the same? If you don't make a difference, nobody will think about you when you're gone. And if they won't miss you then, how much do they need you now? Knowing what makes you matter to your customers is critical—but even that is not enough. Whatever constitutes strategic advantage today will eventually change. That’s why you can’t outsource strategy. It takes leadership to watch over an organization, make the hard choices, provide clarity and alignment, and keep everyone fired up and moving ahead together.

Cynthia Montgomery is a Professor of Business Administration and the Director of Research at Harvard Business School. She is also the author of The Strategist: Be the Leader your Business Needs.

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