by T. Dunaway | Feb. 9, 2023 | 3 Min Read

Strategic Leadership Training vs. Tactical Leadership (Manager) Training


The words “strategy” and “tactics” tend to provoke thoughts of warfare, sports, or possibly even visions of an intense game of chess during the 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 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.

  • Passion: Not only do they know the goal, but they can motivate others to achieve the goal.
  • Emotional Intelligence (EQ): A good leader has developed the ability to manage and understand their own emotions. As a leader, they set the tone of an organization and by mastering emotional intelligence they increase their skills in the other traits.
  • Empathy: Their strong EQ also allows them to empathize and feel the needs, emotions, and thoughts of others.
  • Strong Communicator: They practice active listening but also can deliver a message the way they intend to. Ensuring that what they are trying to communicate is what is interpreted, whether is a difficult communication, or a positive communication.
  • Open-minded and Creative: They see the goal, but they also understand that there is more than one way to get there, and their way may not always be the best. They hear others’ opinions and thoughts and validate them to grow the organization and the competencies of their employees and teammates.

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.

  • Team-oriented: They work closely with their team members and need to ensure that they are getting the best out of each one. They must be able to address issues as they arrive and set the tone for their team.
  • Strong Communicator: They work to bridge the gap between employees and leaders and need strong communication skills to work together with their team. Managers should strive to become strong communicators.
  • Dependable: They should be trustworthy and accessible for their employees and team.
  • Management: They must have a clear understanding of the organization’s goals and values so that they can instill the correct culture and working environment for their employees.

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.


  • Has a mission and a vision
  • Are unique and try to be different from their competitors
  • Take risks
  • Inspire others
  • Is more of a quality than a job title
  • Results can be intangible


  • Goal oriented – break down the vision into attainable goals
  • Try to mimic their competitors
  • Avoid Risks
  • Employs others
  • Is a job title
  • Results are measurable

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 is a college football coach who is brought to England to coach a soccer (football) 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 (football). 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 one to two employees report having no training at all; 41% of managers who oversee three to five employees claim the same." (“39 Statistics that Prove the Value of Employee Training - Lorman”)
  • "Nearly 50% of managers with over ten years of experience claim they’ve only received about nine total hours of training." (“Employee Training Statistics For 2021 - eLearning Industry”)
  • "43% of managers who have been in their role for less than a year say they’ve had no training." (“39 Statistics that Prove the Value of Employee Training - Lorman”)

Back to Ted and his story in England. In his new role, Ted will need to rely on this 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 of 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 7 skills as 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

  • Communication Skills.
  • Managing Staff Virtually and Digitally.
  • Dealing with Difficult People.
  • Delegation Skills Management.
  • Managing Employee Wellness and Well-Being.
  • Inclusion and Diversity People Management.
  • Presentation Skills.

Ted found someone who has 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 that 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 the role to work with Ted and help manage the team. He mastered the 7 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 the 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 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.

Take Action: Improve Your Management Training Today

At Unboxed we create customized training that can help sharpen tactical and strategical management styles as well as add skills and knowledge to enhance management abilities. Our engaging, bite-sized learning can be just the tool you’re looking for to take your manager training to the next level. Ask us about our 360° immersive experiences.

Our Spoke® Learning Management System (LMS) at Unboxed Training & Technology does more than house your company’s content and training materials. Spoke® integrates individual and collaborative learning with practice. As a result, our custom and turn-key content is engaging, impactful, and can be customized to meet the goals of encouraging positive work culture.

Contact us today and see how our management training programs can make a difference for your employees and organization.


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