The Strategist by Cynthia A. Montgomery - Book review

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

The Strategist

Be the Leader Your Business Needs

By: Cynthia A. Montgomery

Published: may 8, 2012
Format: Hardcover, 208 pages
ISBN-10: 0062071017
ISBN-13: 978-0062071019
Publisher: HarperBusiness

"While countless books have been written about strategy in the last thirty years, virtually nothing has been written about the strategist and what this vital role requires of the person who shoulders it", writes Timken Professor of Business Administration and immediate past head of the Strategy Unit at Harvard Business School, Cynthia A. Montgomery, in her revolutionary and thought provoking book The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs. The author describes how standard approaches to strategy are incomplete without considering the crucial role played by the leader in creating and executing the overall plan.

Cynthia Montgomery recognizes that considerable amounts of new research and empirical data, based on real world results, have emerged from the field of strategy. Through the author's own experience from working with executives and managers, however, she has concluded that the role of leadership has been downplayed in strategy studies. Cynthia Montgomery uncovered, through interviews and observation of leaders, the powerful impact that great leadership can have on the company's strategy and its results. The author provides a compelling case for strengthening the role of leadership, and the need to equip and inspire strategists to assume and establish a stronger level of leadership within their organizations.

Cynthia A. Montgomery (photo left) understands that leaders must change the way they view their roles within an organization to thinking of themselves as strategists. This change in focus and attitude creates a fresh perspective and direction for leaders within their firms.

Cynthia Montgomery challenges leaders to ask what she considers the most essential question for every business leader: Does this company truly matter? This crucial and organizational soul searching question changes the entire vision and fabric of the company. With this clarity of thinking in place, the leader moves beyond simply seeing the company as in competition with other firms for the market. Instead, the result will be a complete reshaping and transformation of the company itself.

The author offers the following series of concepts to create what she calls her revisionist approach to strategy:

* Are you a strategist
* The myth of the super-manager
* Begin with purpose
* Turn purpose into reality
* Own your strategy
* Keep it vibrant

For me, the power of the book is how Cynthia Montgomery reappraises the entire concept and field of strategy. This reassessment of strategy focuses the leader on the importance of strategy, and of thinking of themselves as a strategist. This change in the dynamic to thinking as a strategist changes the entire vision and shape of the company. The author not only provides the framework and theoretical basis for becoming a strategist but offers the tools for building the strategist skill set as well.

Cynthia Montgomery illustrates her concepts with case studies of the principles in action in the real world. An added feature of the book is a frequently asked questions section that provides additional insights into the strategist concept. There is also a very useful resource section that provides additional information sources for going more deeply into the various facets of the book

I highly recommend the groundbreaking and leadership transforming book The Strategist: Be the Leader Your Business Needs by Cynthia A. Montgomery, to anyone seeking a clear and concise introduction to a radically different view of leadership and strategy. This book will change the way leaders and managers think of their roles, as they reinvent themselves into strategists.

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