Strategic Leadership Training Vs. Tactical Manager Training

Strategic Leadership Training Vs. Tactical Manager Training
Summary: “Strategy” and “tactics” tend to provoke thoughts of warfare or sports. In leadership training, it's essential to develop strategic leaders and tactical leaders (managers). Maximizing the potential of both is the key to a successful organization.

7 Essential Skills: Leaders Vs. Managers

The words "strategy" and "tactics" tend to provoke thoughts of warfare, sports, or possibly even visions of an intense game of chess during Queen’s Gambit. All these things have the common goal of winning or defeating the opponent. The terms were developed by Sun Tzu in The Art of War, hence the thoughts of warfare. They’re now used in many different situations, including leadership and management. There is a lot of information out there about what makes a good strategic leader and what makes a good tactical leader. Both are essential to having a successful organization.

When it comes to management styles, what are the differences? Is it better to be a strategic leader or a tactical leader? Is a tactical leader a leader or a manager? The truth is that the one cannot exist without the other; there is equity in both. Finding the zone that maximizes the potential of both is the key to a successful organization, and every organization needs both strategic and tactical leaders and managers. But those management skills don’t come naturally, they come with lots of practice integrated with management training. Before we get into training, let’s look at strategy and tactics, and how they play a role in leadership and management.

Strategic Leadership Vs. Tactical Leadership (Management)

Strategic leaders focus on long-term goals. Their work is determined by the big picture and how they can remain on the path to reach those long-term goals. They look at the skills employees will need in the future, analyze the competition, and look at how what they’re doing today will impact the future. A good strategic leader has a vision and a mission. They know where they want to go and what they need to do to get there. When looking at the overall picture of a leader in general, there are some traits that stick out.

  • Passionate
    Great leaders not only have a clear goal in mind, but they can also inspire and motivate others to achieve that goal.
  • Emotional intelligence (EQ)
    Great leaders possess the ability to manage and understand their own emotions, setting the tone for the organization. By mastering EQ, they can also improve their abilities in other leadership traits.
  • Empathetic
    Strong EQ also enables great leaders to empathize with others and understand their needs, emotions, and thoughts.
  • Strong communicator
    They excel at active listening and can effectively deliver their message in a way that is understood as intended, whether it's a challenging or positive communication.
  • Open-minded and creative
    Great leaders recognize that there are multiple paths to achieving their goal and that their approach may not always be the best. They are receptive to others' opinions and thoughts, validating and integrating them to enhance the organization and foster growth for their employees and team.

Tactical leaders or managers are looking at daily goals rather than the big picture. They are more focused on the short-term, day-to-day activities that get the job done: project management, delivering feedback and coaching, and organizing and running meetings. They use a list and cross things off as they go. A good tactical manager can make sure things are done right so that the job gets done. There are also traits that stick out when looking at successful managers, some of which are similar.

  • Collaborative
    Effective managers work closely with their team members to ensure that everyone is performing to the best of their abilities. They should be able to identify and address issues as they arise, while setting the tone for their team.
  • Effective communicator
    Managers must bridge the gap between employees and upper management, requiring strong communication skills to collaborate with their team. They should prioritize developing effective communication abilities.
  • Reliable
    Managers must be trustworthy and accessible to their employees and team, ensuring that they can depend on them for guidance and support.
  • Strategic management
    Managers need to have a comprehensive understanding of their organization's goals and values, in order to establish the appropriate culture and work environment for their team.

What’s The Difference Between Leaders And Managers?

You may notice the similarities between leaders and managers; there are also some significant differences. While a manager can be a great leader and a leader can also be a great manager, not all managers are great leaders and vice versa. Let’s look at some of the differences that set them apart:


  • Possesses a clear mission and vision
  • Strives to differentiate themselves by innovating
  • Willing to take calculated risks
  • Motivates and inspires others
  • Viewed as a personality trait rather than just a job title
  • Outcomes may not always be quantifiable or tangible


  • Breaks down vision into attainable goals
  • Follows or emulates established best practices
  • Lower risk tolerance
  • Engages day-to-day with teams
  • Position viewed as a job title rather than a personality trait
  • Impact is easily quantifiable

Developing Rising Stars And New Managers

Have you seen Ted Lasso? In case you’ve been living under a rock and have not yet experienced the wholesome lovability of Ted Lasso, here’s a quick overview. The premise of the show is that Ted Lasso is a college football coach who is brought to England to coach a soccer team. He knows nothing about soccer, so he brings his friend, Coach Beard, along for the journey. Hilarity ensues. But this is not a review of Ted Lasso, so let’s get back to the importance of managers and leaders. Ted knows nothing about the sport of soccer. He is not able to make many of the tactical decisions that involve the team, but he has an overall vision and knows where he wants to go. Ted needs a great manager to help him carry out his vision. Before we look more at Ted, let’s look at some data to see why he wants someone with training. These statistics taken from Lorman show why manager training is essential to employee development programs:

  • 59% of managers who oversee 1–2 employees report having no training at all; 41% of managers who oversee 3–5 employees claim the same.
  • Nearly 50% of managers with over 10 years of experience claim they’ve only received about 9 total hours of training.
  • 43% of managers who have been in their role for less than a year say they’ve had no training.

Back to Ted and his story in England. In his new role, Ted will need to rely on his tactical manager for many of the day-to-day operations. He can let go of some his traditional day-to-day tasks and focus on the big picture. He has a long-term strategy that involves working with the team making them individually better, not necessarily always at the game of soccer, but as people. He helps grow the relationships among the group and creates an overall team mentality. As a result, he puts together a team that can win and compete at the highest level. His vision for the future lets him see where he wants to go and where he wants his organization to go. He can also begin to develop a plan for how to get there. Ted is the strategic leader, the head coach. (Ironically, a coach in England is called a manager). What are the skills he is looking for when he chooses his assistant (manager)? According to Symonds Research the following seven skills are essential to having a successful business. Training in these areas is worth providing, to ensure an organization’s managers have the right skills.

7 Essential Skills And Types Of Training Topics For Managers And Supervisors

  • Effective communication
    The ability to communicate clearly and concisely is crucial for successful leadership and management.
  • Virtual and digital management
    With more teams working remotely, great leaders must excel in managing staff virtually and digitally.
  • Conflict resolution
    Leaders must be skilled in handling difficult people and resolving conflicts to maintain a positive and productive work environment.
  • Delegation
    Effective delegation of tasks is critical to achieving goals and managing team resources.
  • Employee well-being
    Leaders should prioritize the well-being and health of their employees, both physically and mentally.
  • Diversity and inclusion
    Leaders must ensure that diversity and inclusion are central to their people management practices, creating a welcoming and inclusive work environment.
  • Effective presentation
    The ability to deliver engaging and impactful presentations is essential for effective communication and leadership.

Ted found someone who had mastered these skills: Coach Beard. Coach Beard has a knowledge of soccer. He knows about formations and lineups. He knows the tactical choices that need to be made for each game and can serve as an advisor to Ted, so that when they put their strategic leadership and tactical management together, they hit the sweet spot. Beard checks off the items on the list, he can manage the team, deal with difficult people, present information to the team, and delegate tasks. Ted has the strategy that provides Beard with the list. Individually they would not have success, but it is the ability to capitalize on both of their management strengths that makes things work. The tactical and the strategic. The leadership and the management.

A great tactical manager is essential to any organization, just as Coach Beard is essential to the success of Ted Lasso and his team. Not much is said of the history of Coach Beard; one can assume that he put in a good deal of time learning the ins and outs of soccer. He most likely participated in a training program that fit seamlessly into his day and prepared him for his role, to work with Ted and help manage the team. He mastered the seven essential skills listed above. One can also assume that this training program was excellent: Beard demonstrated that he retained the knowledge he learned in his training, and it was valuable to both him and the organization as he put that training into practice. He begins reaching his career goals while also serving the organization and contributing to their success and ability to reach their organizational goals. An outstanding leader and an outstanding manager are working together.

Outstanding management leads to employee engagement, or, in the case of Ted and Coach Beard, player engagement. Employee engagement leads to profitability or wins. Manager performance accounts for at least 70% of employee engagement scores. The cost of investing in your managers and their growth will pay off when their employees grow and become more engaged. Just look at the data below from companies with highly engaged employees. This data was gathered from a Brian Rollo article on LinkedIn. Companies with highly engaged employees realize:

  • 41% reduction in absenteeism
  • 17% increase in productivity
  • 28% reduction in shrinkage (the dollar amount of unaccounted-for lost merchandise)
  • 40% reduction in quality defects
  • 70% decrease in employee safety incidents
  • 10% increase in customer metrics
  • 20% increase in sales.
  • 21% greater profitability

Further Reading:

eBook Release: Unboxed Training & Technology
Unboxed Training & Technology
We Create Award Winning Learning Experiences For Employee Development: Training Content & AI-Driven Learning Technology