Whether you’re the boss, a partner, or an employee, it pays to develop your strategic thinking skills in the workplace. Strategic leadership is fundamentally crucial to your career, and for the success of any organization.
But you might be uncertain about what exactly constitutes strategic thinking and how you go about nurturing it. Experts have defined 6 practices that strategic leaders do well.
1. Strategic Leaders Scan the Environment
There’s so much day-to-day work to get through that it’s easy to get caught up in the tasks of the moment. Or if you do find time to do some planning, it’s focused on what’s directly ahead of you—next week’s meeting, the quarterly report, the annual conference.
But a truly strategic leader takes a 360-degree view of the business environment. What are the emerging trends? What are your competitors doing? What are your data projections?
2. Strategic Leaders Are Skeptical
Critical thinking is under-rated. You need to develop a degree of skepticism to avoid being taken in by fads. You might meet resistance of the, ‘but we’ve always done it like this’ type. Strategic leaders challenge entrenched mindsets and habits to find better solutions.
3. Strategic Leaders Interpret
Strategic thinkers enjoy sifting through multiple sources of information. They test assumptions and hypotheses to see which are robust and worth pursuing. They are comfortable with ambiguity and don’t reach for easy or conventional solutions.
4. Strategic Leaders are Decision Makers
Some people feel uneasy about having to make a decision. It can be a big responsibility, after all. But strategic leaders are confident in their ability to analyze and assess multiple forms of data. They seek advice and know it’s better to make a firm decision than to be paralyzed by fear of failure.
5. Strategic Leaders Strive for Alignment
Often alignment is a better result than consensus. It’s hard to get everyone to agree. But strategic leaders build trust with stakeholders, are open about their decision-making processes, and are not afraid to talk about the tough issues. And they take responsibility for their decisions.
6. Strategic Leaders Learn
One of the hallmarks of the strategic thinker is curiosity. Strategic leaders have a thirst for learning and are always prepared to adapt their thinking when they uncover new information. Strategic leaders live for continuous improvement. They use techniques like debriefing sessions to get better insights into project learnings. They are also flexible and use feedback to course-correct when necessary. Strategic leaders celebrate success and learn from failures.