A version of this article was first published in my monthly Troy Media column and can be viewed at http://www.troymedia.com/2015/03/30/tips-to-becoming-a-strategic-thinker/
Last week I started working with a leader who suddenly finds herself on the executive team. A corporate restructuring caused her to skip a level and now she is sitting around the table asking, ‘am I strategic enough to do this job?’ Her question is not unique. Twenty years of working with leaders on their development has taught me there are 3 leadership success factors executives worry about most: public speaking, financial acumen and strategic thinking. The typical solution for the leader who wants to be more strategic is to attend an executive education program called something like "Strategic Planning for Executives". What usually happens is they take the program, have a wonderful time, develop some really good peer connections, and then complain the course was aboutplanning not strategic thinking.
What is strategic thinking?
Strategic thinkers demonstrate the following characteristics:
Can strategic thinking be learned?
First, the bad news. Everyone’s brain is wired differently. Some people are profoundly creative. Others have an intuitive sense around people. Your brain is your brain. Best to know what it does well, and where the wires don’t connect.
Now, the good news. If you understand how your brain works, and you know what you want it to do, you can apply it in new ways.
How to be more strategic
Not every strategist will be a leader, and not every leader will be a strategist. Being a strategic leader is a combination of strategic thinking and strategic action.
Tactics for developing strategic thinking include:
Tactics for developing strategic actions include:
Everyone wants to be strategic. While you might not be the most strategic thinker by nature, strategic action can be nurtured.