The thing about corporate leadership is you need to know what you are leading. Sounds simple right? If you think you are leading “people” or, worse, “employees” you are toast. If you are leading “change” more toast. Throw “turnarounds,” “team” and “movements” in for good measure. The what you’re leading is the product and product result for which people are paying. Airlines are in the long distance transportation business. If they lose sight of that and someone creates a helicopter that gets passengers where they want faster and cheaper the airlines lose.
Only when a leader understand the what can s/he focus on the why — what the company trying to accomplish? Should the why be to make the most money possible, that’s not leadership because it lacks product endemic vision. To take the fast helicopter example further, the why might be tied to the fact that when flying on a plane today one spends more time preparing to fly than actually flying. The why might be to be the most efficient means of long distance transport.
With the what and the why answered a great leader can then govern the chess pieces toward the how – the strategy. Everyone wants to be strategic. But strategy without plan, without reason is really just a tactic is disguise. A company with a leader who has a dashboard with forty gauges and knows them all, but can’t tell you the what and why gets a B- at best. Peace!