Strategic Leadership: An Organic Intellect

Strategic Leadership: An Organic Intellect

Linda Ellington (Southern New Hampshire University, USA)
Copyright: © 2017 |Pages: 14
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-1049-9.ch113


In this chapter, I introduce my probing inquisitiveness into the connection between organic intellect and strategic leadership. I am an advocate of organic practices and intellectual virtues which include integrity, humility, empathy, and fairmindedness. There is enthusiasm which has come to embrace organic intellect as a central leitmotif of strategic leadership; thus, the purpose of this chapter is to neatly articulate the basic idea and the value attached to organic intellect as it relates to strategic management and leadership. Given the importance of the virtues, this chapter has the intention to include a set of intellectual qualities and habits of mind, which I refer to as the overall disposition of an organic intellect.
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I chose to explore this topic because the research of strategic leaders and managers, while far from exhausted, is drifting toward a continued understanding of how organic intellect influences strategic leading; which is refreshing to me. In the complexity of all the challenges faced by strategic leaders and managers, the capacity to embrace an organic mindset demonstrates the knowing that it has great potential for leading an organization not in a flat world, but one that is jarring. Leaders with organic intellect see the world in imaginative and different ways; they exhibit an intellectual curiosity. They expand the horizons of possibility. They make thought visible which has the opportunity to become the clay with which people build creative solutions to complex challenges (Palus & Horth, 2002). Organic leaders embrace the habit of adapting great ideas from other areas which includes the ability to restructure old thought patterns and provoke curiosity and creativity (Karlgaard, 2014).

Many managers and leaders began their leadership journey utilizing an approach with striking similarities to the game of checkers, a highly reactionary game often played at a frantic pace. Any strategies we employed in this style of leadership was limited, if not rudimentary (Miller, 2015). Mr. Miller further posits:

The opportunities in our world for leaders to play checkers and be successful are dwindling. The game today for strategic leaders can better be compared to chess – a game in which strategy matters; a game in which individual pieces have unique abilities that drive unique contributions; a game in which heightened focus and a deeper level of thinking are required to win. (2015, p. 2)

As our opportunities and challenges grow ever more complex, strategic leadership has never been more valuable. This chapter demystifies the essence of modern leadership in the hope that it provides insights into what it means to lead from an organic mindset that engages intellectual virtues; thus, of great value to many managers and leaders, not only in itself but also as a strategic instrument. Kotter tells us, “the driving force behind leading is: leadership, leadership, and still more leadership” (1996, p. 31).

Key Terms in this Chapter

Intellect: The understanding or mental powers. The capacity for thinking and acquiring knowledge, especially of a high or complex order.

Virtues: Excellence, demonstrating a standard of right, strength, courage, a commendable quality or trait.

Strategy: Derived from the Greek word ‘ stratcgos ’ meaning leading / moving.

Mindset: An established set of attitudes held by someone. A mental attitude or inclination.

Organic: Without artificial. Made up of systematically interrelated parts.

Empathy: The ability to understand and share the feelings of another.

Habits of Mind: Having a disposition toward behaving intelligently when confronted with problems, the resolutions to which are not immediately apparent.

Leadership: The action of guiding, directing, pioneering, forerunner.

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