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Managerial leadership: how to give form and substance to it

How do you translate a strategy into
concrete result? That is the big challenge for organisations
in changeing.It requires effective top managers. How do they achieve a winning strategy, support? (collective) decisiveness and results? Books are full of them, but what exactly is managerial leadership? And what are the behavioural characteristics of successful directors? In this blog, I summarize insights from recent research on effective managerial leadership.

What is managerial leadership?

By managerial leadership we mean the ability to translate a strategy into a result and into a positive culture within and around the organisation, which requires the ability to make (collective) decisions and facilitate support for change.

Characteristics of managerial leadership are:

Giving direction and space or asking for results and accountability

Managerial leadership is internally and externally focused: you have to run the internal organisation (strategy, course) and keep an eye on developments in the external environment.

Organising teamwork and forming vital coalitions

Every organization is embedded in a larger network. External focus is therefore important, for both large and small organisations.

Making a well-considered choice for a change approach

Make the right choices for implementing the change. Take it one step at a time. From Exploring and Shaping to Realizing and Renewing.

Making results visible and celebrating successes

Transparency is important. Because only when others know how things are going will you maintain support. This is true for any organization.

Aristotle, the undisputed leadership guru

A lot is being said and written about leadership. From Machiavelli to Steve Jobs. However, the undisputed leadership and management guru, as far as I am concerned, is the Greek philosopher and scientist Aristotle (384 to 322 BC). In The Nicomanchean, he describes the characteristics for effective leadership. According to Aristotle, this involves:

Scientific knowledge

Episteme is Greek for ‘to know’. This involves the ability to reason scientifically or objectively. You dare to prove yourself wrong?

Practical wisdom

Phronesis is about the practical wisdom needed to translate a vision and strategy into the implementation of change in an organisation. Pragmatic, integral and focused on action.

Skills and craftsmanship

The Greek word Techné stands for craftsmanship, craft and art. In other words: do you understand your profession? How skilled are you at it?

Four characteristics of success

Building on the work of Aristotle, much research has been done on the behavioral characteristics of successful executives. Yulk and his colleagues were able to discover the red leadership thread through miles of scientific research. His research shows that successful executives perform well on the following four behavioral characteristics:


Successful managers are results-oriented: they ensure that resources are used efficiently to achieve the organisation’s objectives. They make realistic plans and use transparency to make adjustments quickly.


Effective executives know that they need other people to deliver results. They need to be able to work well together and most importantly build effective teams. And not unimportant coaching skills to stimulate shared responsibility.

Change oriented

The ability to act in uncertain situations is a characteristic of top managers. Learning, reflecting and adapting to external changes is essential. This learning-by-doing mentality is needed to learn from crisis situations and to make innovations successful.


Effective managers are also able to create multiple value, and to think and act beyond their own organisational boundaries. It is becoming increasingly important to achieve not only economically feasible, but also ecologically responsible and socially just results. The ability to work together effectively in networks is important in this respect.

Administrative leadership 4 characteristics of success

Leading performance through relationship

What is fascinating about the work of Yulk and other researchers is that they show that thinking about leadership is changing. Leadership in the21stcentury is essentially about influencing and cooperating effectively in networks. In order to realise economic, social and ecological goals together. It is no longer about the glorification of a single person, but about performance through relationships, based on the idea that leadership is never united in a single person. This requires organizing cooperation and connecting people.

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dr. Pim Valentijn

I research the added value of healthcare innovations and the steps needed to achieve better health, better care and lower costs. For this I connect science with practice.

Through thorough research, I determine how organizations perform in realizing value-driven care. With this knowledge I help build future-proof healthcare organizations and networks.

PIZ 24 stress and stress reductionChronic stress and stress reduction at work
pexels-photo-1251175The 4 advantages of membership in network organisations

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