Journal of ISSN: 2373-6445JPCPY

Psychology & Clinical Psychiatry
Volume 3 Issue 2 - 2015
The Psychology and Self Efficacy of Strategic Leaders: Movements beyond Management
Brenda Fellows*
University of California, Berkeley - Walter A. Haas School of Business; Management of Organizations Group, USA
Received: April 8, 2015 | Published: July 18, 2015
*Corresponding author: Brenda Fellows, University of California, Berkeley - Walter A. Haas School of Business; Management of Organizations Group, 756 Bounty Drive Suite 5602 Foster City, CA 94404, USA, Tel: (650) 759-0841; Email: @
Citation: Fellows B (2015) The Psychology and Self Efficacy of Strategic Leaders: Movements beyond Management. J Psychol Clin Psychiatry 3(2): 00127. DOI: 10.15406/jpcpy.2015.03.00127


In fields of management, strategic management, operations, strategy development, strategic planning, accounting, finance, business administration, organizational development and organizational behavior who leads, how one leads and when one becomes a leader continues to elude chief executive officers, boards of directors, managers, employees, consultants, practitioners and scholars. Over the past forty years business leadership landscapes shifted. Where leaders were in charge of organizations for approximately fifteen years, today, organizational leadership rarely exceeds three years. In the challenge to lead stress, trauma, modes of depression, anxiety, fear, immobilization, retaliation, revenge, underpinning perspectives of emotional and systemic violence often create reactions to business situations and processes pushing “leaders” back into roles of “managing”. In this retreat by leaders and managers, the process of leading is lost at its highest point or relegated to a sub activity.

 The traditional field of organizational behavior and the process of leadership historically addressed human development and human processes relating to organizations; not how the dynamics and development of human beings might influence how human dynamics influence actions within those organizations. Processes center on organizations; not human beings. Traditional processes of organizational behavior, and to some extent organizational development, human resources management, and management create disconnects between who the individual is, how the individual has developed and what cultural processes engage the individual; impacting both strategic leadership and strategic management in the workplace.

To effectively address psychological underpinnings of human dynamics within the field of leadership one must explore emotional, social, spiritual and internal dynamics driving human performance, decision making, and stressors. The field of leadership misses a true partnership with human and group dynamics. Challenges and processes experienced by the global community, as a direct result of the imbalance of human and organizational dynamics and its psychological underpinnings, is evident; thus, the importance of focusing on developing the employee into a strategic leader.

Leadership focuses on people. Strategic leadership is the explicit balance of psychological dynamics of humanity, ethnicity and culture interconnected with strategy dynamics of teams, groups, and organizations to create sustainable, long-term processes of leading beyond management. Strategic leadership centers on human decision making and human dynamics influencing organizational and people effectiveness, and how that process of human dynamics influences management and leadership strategy. Interwoven within the discussion of leadership is a requirement to understand how psychological processes of human behavior influence product development, organizational strategy, cultural influences and sustained organizational success.

Management focuses on tasks. Strategic management centers on analysis, decisions and actions of organizational leaders creating and sustaining competitive advantages; including strategy, negotiation, how each is directly influenced by organizational leaders’ ability to be proactive, forward thinking, effective cross-culturally, horizontally and vertically. What creates opportunity and capacity for leading and leadership to emerge? When does one recognize signs of leading within organizations? How is leadership embraced in the United States and the world? Where is there mutual understanding of roles – leading and managing? How do people shift from one to the other – managing to leading; leading to managing? What are key strategic changes building capacity for strategic leadership? Perhaps a thought and action paradigm shift creating a baseline for how leading and change become partners for sustainable organizational development in the process of leading is necessary. Leadership, from a psychological lens, is often an afterthought, if present at all. Leading is less than optimal because leaders’ understanding of human dimensions is often a mental and practice gap… unclosed.

Strategic leaders focus on psychological movements beyond management; helping organizations respond to and ensure domestic and international concerns are addressed. Leadership more so than other management and organizational topics, generates research and interest. When organizational issues emerge, quick fixes and fads are alive and well. Existent are compartmentalized approaches to change and transformation within organizations. Courses and textbooks centering on leadership, strategy, and strategic management are regularly offered in MBA programs. Concepts and constructs of leading are transposed as dynamics of leading. Leadership voids can be filled in organizations by business programs educating and developing future organizational leaders through courses specifically focused on strategic leadership. Organizations are searching for the perfect leader; someone who can save the day and put the organization back on the right competitive path - supposedly, a charismatic leader. To accomplish the task sustainably, gaining an understanding of concepts, constructs, content, context and processes of strategic leadership; creating dialogue among varying constituencies of leading and leadership through holistic and sustained approaches is critical.

A concern: organizational leaders may be unclear regarding issues of leadership and management. An understanding of nuances driving leader performance rather than management task driven processes is necessary. Without an understanding of that difference, organizational leaders will continue to have obstacles in the human dimension versus the operational performance categories, and misperceptions of leader performance versus manager performance. Understanding psychology is necessary. Leadership is driven more by psychological processes rather than management task processes. Strategic leaders are well rounded thinkers; critical, analytical and reflective in approaches to problem analysis, problem solving, decision making and implementation. As research continues to show, one can expect for leadership to remain a gap for organizations continuing to have leader changes every two to three years; rather than having long term leader processes driving sustainable strategies for more than two to five years. Thus, the necessity to explore ways leadership becomes a long-term strategy rather than a short-term profit driven process.

An analysis of current leadership theory and practice, why it does not become embedded in the psyche of human beings, current leadership or management of organizations, governments, consulting organizations and NGOs is crucial. Becoming aware of what hooks and blocks development of leaders and addressing what emerges within people and organizational systems; reducing potential of leadership to be truly valued, is critical. An underpinning disdain for psychology currently occurs. In that disdain, the old adage – anyone can lead – becomes the first challenge. The perspective – if you cannot do, teach - creates a workforce of experience without thought, knowledge and capacity for fluidity; a critical asset to leading in today's global environment. A challenge is the perspective of outside-in processes versus inside-out processes. Actions of current leaders are largely based on outside-in thought and action; reducing or eliminating integration, synthesis and new awareness on behalf of managers or leaders; reducing potential of leaders to meet challenges of employees, community groups, governments, and countries. The inside-out concept is a congruent integration of one’s beliefs, values, and assumptions; creating both a worldview for embracing challenges and issues arising in your personal and professional life, and a perspective of internal ego strength driving understanding of how you choose to interface with people, systems, processes, and approaches to life; allowing choices and actions to be driven by who one is first before assessing what one is to do. As a result, actions and decisions made are more congruent and sustainable than being directed or impacted by external influences from others.

We can address these leadership issues by examining strategy: failings of strategic management through an exploration of what does not work regarding traditional labels, trait theory, trait approaches, process leadership, a lack of depth to create people movement, disadvantage of skills and styles; creating masks blocking leadership while only supporting management, and disadvantages of situational and contingency theories to leadership. We can explore what works regarding path-goal approaches and how they may not go far enough because participative and achievement oriented leadership are never truly realized. Explorations of strategy, as critical to leading, demonstrate a psychological mask and an inappropriate psychological bargaining occurring between employees, managers, leaders and organizations; further shifting downward effectiveness in the organizational process.

Challenging current perspectives on strategic leadership to establish an appropriate framework for sustained leadership is necessary. Issues of leader emergence, situational favorability, organizational culture and climate, relationships with subordinates, leadership through managerial decisions, communication, power, influence, transformational strategies, and persuasion are evident. A challenge is to address the need for effective strategic leadership using psychological processes and determining how the use of underlying psychological principles and practices create understanding, exploring where challenges are with existent tried and true methods - shifting concepts of strategy to embrace psychology equal to business paradigms.

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