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What you will learn in SBL

The aim of the syllabus is to demonstrate organisational leadership and senior consultancy or advisory capabilities and relevant professional skills, through the context of an integrated case study.

The syllabus for Strategic Business Leader acts as the key leadership syllabus at the Strategic Professional level and is a substantial integrated examination. The examination requires candidates to demonstrate a range of professional skills demanded by effective leaders or in advising or supporting senior management in directing organisations. The syllabus therefore combines the main functions of organisations in the context of leadership capability.

The main capabilities of the Strategic Business Leader syllabus assume essential technical skills and knowledge have been acquired in the Applied Knowledge and Applied Skills examinations where some of the core capabilities of Strategic Business Leader will have been introduced in a subject-specific context, such as governance, internal audit, control, risk, finance, and management. The examination also draws upon a range of ethical and professional skills acquired in the Ethics and Professional Skills module, which should be completed before attempting any of the Strategic Professional examinations.

The Strategic Business Leader syllabus is covered in ten main sections with leadership, professionalism and ethics and corporate governance used as the initial focus for the rest of the syllabus.

Excellent leadership involves having a team of capable and responsible directors, setting an appropriate ‘tone from the top’ and embedding appropriate corporate and cultural values within the organisation.

This is supported by a sound governance structure and effective management structures. The syllabus begins by examining leadership and having in place responsible and ethical leaders, having an awareness of who they are responsible to. This section also covers personal and professional ethics, ethical frameworks – and professional values – as applied to a senior manager or adviser’s role and as a guide to appropriate behaviour and conduct in a variety of situations.

Clearly linked to organisational leadership is the existence of an effective governance structure within organisations in the broad context of the agency relationship. This aspect of the syllabus focuses on the respective roles and responsibilities of directors, the relevant committee structures and the effective scrutiny of the performance of senior management, demonstrating their accountability by reporting more widely and holistically to stakeholders under an integrated reporting  framework.

It is only after the fundamental organisational leadership and governance structures and values are in place that strategy can be determined and the strategic position of the organisation can be assessed and strategic options evaluated and implemented. 

Evaluating strategic options, making strategic choices and implementing strategy requires the organisation’s leaders, or their advisers, to fully understand the risks involved so the syllabus then examines the identification, assessment, and control of risk as a key aspect of responsible leadership and management.

The syllabus also includes a section relating to and applying IT and security controls at all levels of the organisation from strategic considerations including big data, machine learning, e-business, cloud computing and smart technology through to using IT in the management of information, controlling organisations, and in financial and organisational operations. This section also focuses on the growing importance of ‘cyber security’.

To support the management of risk the syllabus also addresses organisational control in its wider context, including internal audit, review, internal control, and appropriate reporting to implement and support effective governance, including compliance issues related to the safeguard of assets including data security, and decision-support functions.

The syllabus includes financial aspects of managing an organisation, including evaluating available sources of finance and key financial and management accounting techniques to analyse performance and to support decision-making. Candidates need to be aware of legal issues and of the financial reporting and taxation implications of strategic and investment decisions.

The syllabus then focuses on enabling success and change management. The syllabus includes organisational changes, talent management, performance excellence, IT solutions and project management, including the role of new and disruptive technologies in transforming the nature of business analysis and transactions.

The professional skills section of the syllabus links to all others and provides a range of professional skills that the candidate must demonstrate in the exam which will make them more employable, or if already in work, will enhance their opportunities for advancement.

The last section, which closely links to the professional skills section, is the demonstration of appropriate digital and employability skills in preparing for and taking the examination. This includes being able to use computer functionality and technology to access information and present responses in a professional manner during live examinations. 

On successful completion of this exam, candidates should be able to:

A. Apply excellent leadership and ethical skills to set the ‘tone from the top’ and promote a positive culture within the organisation, adopting a whole organisation perspective in managing performance and value creation.

B. Evaluate the effectiveness of the governance and agency system of an organisation and recognise the responsibility of the board or other agents towards their stakeholders, including the organisation’s social responsibilities and the reporting implications.

C. Evaluate the strategic position of the organisation against the external environment and the availability of internal resources, to identify feasible strategic options.

D. Analyse the risk profile of the organisation and of any strategic options identified, within a culture of responsible risk management.

E. Select and apply appropriate information technologies and data analytics, to analyse factors affecting the organisation’s value chain to identify strategic opportunities and implement strategic options within a framework of robust IT security controls.

F. Evaluate management reporting and internal control and audit systems to ensure compliance and the achievement of organisation’s objectives and the safeguarding of organisational assets

G. Apply high level financial techniques from the Applied Skills exams in the planning, implementation and evaluation of strategic options and actions.

H. Enable success through innovative thinking, applying best in class strategies and disruptive technologies in the management of change; initiating, leading and organising projects,while effectively managing talent and other business resources.

I. Apply a range of professional skills in addressing requirements within the Strategic Business Leader examination and in preparation for, or to support, current work experience.

J. Demonstrate other employability and digital skills in preparing for and taking the
Strategic Business Leader examination.

More information about the Practical Experience Requirement can be viewed here: