How Strategic Thinking Improves Your Leadership Skills – A Winning Guide
“Your attitude, not your aptitude, will determine your altitude” – Zig Ziglar
Strategic thinking is a powerful tool in the leadership of an organisation. It gives them the foresight and insight needed for success over the long term when applied throughout the organisation.
Employees and people in general, value leaders who are not focused solely on solving the problem of today but are looking to the future as well.
Leaders Plan Ahead
Leaders plan ahead and figure out what needs to be done today, tomorrow and the years ahead to get there.
There are many opportunities to use and improve strategic thinking leadership skills every day. By learning to practice problem solving at every stage of a project you build your strategic thinking skills.
Good leaders ask others for their input on problems and consider other solutions.
Give constructive feedback to team members along the way helps them understand what’s working or not as well as a chance to use the insight right away.
By doing this, your team members respect you and trust you to help them do the right thing.
When you improve your strategic thinking skills and implement those skills with others, you become a better communicator.
Effective communication is a top attribute of a leader who is a strategic thinker. By developing good communication skills and being able to clearly describe what actions you want your team to take, you also unite everyone to work together.
Being a good communicator means having an open-door policy and having one-on-one meetings regularly with team members. You make yourself accessible to discuss anything.
Communication includes having good listening skills as well. It’s important to listen to what your employees or team members have to say. Leaders speak and hear well.
Employees need to know you hear their concerns and ideas. This helps build morale and makes your business better since you are getting input from people on the front.
Mark Twain said, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have rather talked.” A leader practices listening and gains the knowledge solve problems, improve services or products, and builds a stronger company atmosphere.
Strategic thinking leaders have a collaborative approach that creates transparency in the business.
Being genuinely interested in collaborating with your team lets them know what you’re thinking and you to know what they are thinking. This leads to trust.
A strategic thinking leader is forthright about their success, failures, and the reasons for choosing certain goals or plans over others.
This level of honesty and responsibility earns the respect of their team and encourages the team to follow suit.
Passion and commitment show through from your enthusiasm for project or your mission. This gets others excited because they see and feel your excitement.
Commitment is what gets the job done with the ability to stay focused on what you need to do to be successful.
Showing your team that you are passionate and committed means doing the work alongside them. They see this, increasing their motivation and respect for you.
Improving your strategic thinking skills helps make you a better leader since your team members see you being passionate and committed to your goal.
They feel they can trust you because you are honest about the project or goal and all the ups and downs that go with it.
Your open communication and good listening skills leaves the door open for them to be able to come to you when they have problems or ideas.
Do You Have What It Takes to Be A Strategic Thinker
“Curious, Not Judgemental.” – Walt Whitman
Strategic thinking is a skill in how we think, assess, view, solve problems and create our future for ourselves and others.
It’s basically knowing what you to achieve and how to achieve it. It’s not always easy to develop a strategic approach as it’s both mindset and techniques.
Strategic thinkers are able to see the big picture, identify the possible impact and set up a plan to get there.
Strategic thinkers have seven main qualities in common:
• Emotional Balance
Let’s look at what those are in more detail…
1. They have the ability to think logically and creatively, using both left and right sides of the brain.
2. Strategic thinkers can develop a clearly outlined and focused vision for business or personal needs.
3. They are able to create flexibility into their plans by creating benchmarks to guide them and recognise opportunities to revise plans when they need to.
4. Strategic thinkers are aware and perceptive of themselves and what’s around them. They recognise subtle external and internal clues to guide their direction and seize upon opportunities for themselves or their company or organisation.
5. They listen, hear, and understand what others say. They read and observe whatever they can to use as a guide.
6. They often have “Ah Ha” moments while relaxing or doing other activities.
7. Strategic thinkers have a clear definition of their objective and develop an action plan broken down into tasks that have list of needed resources or a specific timeline.
8. The best thinkers take time for themselves. It can be a retreat, a walk in someplace special to them, relaxing in the lobby of a historic hotel or an afternoon alone with a blank sheet of paper or document just for thinking.
9. Strategic thinkers are often lifelong learners, learning from every experience put before them and in every part of life.
10. Strategic thinkers are able to balance their immense amounts of creativity with a sense of honesty and realism about what can be achieved in the long term. They refer to themselves as realistic optimists.
11. They are committed to and often seek advice, confide in, and offer ideas for feedback from a coach, mentor, a peer group or other group.
12. They are non-judgemental and don’t allow themselves to be restricted by judging their own thoughts.
13. Strategic thinkers are patient. They don’t rush to conclusions, knowing great ideas require time to develop into success in the future.
14. They see a potential for how the world should be and take the steps to get there.
15. Strategic thinkers set up and commit to deadlines.
16. They are conscious of their own biases.
17. They are observant, watching before forming a judgement.
18. They understand other people’s intentions, desires and hopes.
19. Strategic thinkers make quick informed decisions.
20. They are good communicators, effectively communicating what they want and need through clear directions or orders.
21. They respect the thoughts and desires of others.
22. They react calmly under pressure.
23. Strategic thinkers have a high level of confidence and self-esteem.
24. They know their weaknesses and seek advice from others in those areas.
25. They are flexible thinkers so they can shift gears and think about things in more than one way.
Strategic thinkers develop skills that allow them to have a vision, to see where they want to go and to create the plan and implement the steps to get there.
You can develop these skills to become a strategic thinker.
Signs You Are A Strategic Thinker
“Life is a sum of all our choices” – Albert Camus
Maybe you’ve never heard the term strategic thinker, or you’ve been told you need to be a strategic thinker. There’s a good chance you might be one already.
Strategic thinking is a type of mindset, a soft skill if you will, that requires you to analyse the present to shape the future for yourself and your organisation.
Look for the following signs to help you see what attributes a strategic thinker has…
1. You are inclined to self-reflect. You find yourself regularly reflecting on tasks you’ve already completed, conversations you’ve had or the experiences you hoped would have gone differently.
Strategic thinkers can take apart an event after it’s over to understand it fully and then adopt that knowledge for learning to do better next time. You relive key moments so they can understand the bigger picture.
2. You’re always asking questions. When you don’t understand something, you want to ask questions. Some people don’t bother to do this or aren’t sure how to ask the right questions. They simply make assumptions or do the project and then ask questions later.
3. You are continually trying to learn, working ahead to understand, or heading off potential problems, you are a strategic thinker.
You ask questions like: “What’s the desired outcome and who benefits? Why is this important to us? Who will this decision effect? What will this mean to our team a month from now? If this doesn’t work what is the fallback plan?”
4. You don’t waste effort by duplicating efforts. You become frustrated when two or more parties are performing the same work or some of the same tasks that end up wasting resources and time.
5. You compartmentalise distractions easily. You find it easy to group and sort your many responsibilities. You push distractions aside and focus on what your most immediate task is.
You don’t shut down mentally or start to panic at the thought of having multiple tasks that have to be seen to completion at the same time or soon after each other.
6. You are decisive when necessary. You gather the necessary information competently while keeping a cool head. You don’t allow a difficult decision to cause you stress.
You are confident and knowledgeable in your choice.
7. You set goals for yourself on a regular basis. You break down major goals into smaller tasks. You understand why something is worth your time it takes to do.
You get excited setting professional and personal goals for yourself. You have an eye towards your future.
8. You’re thrilled helping others be their best. You want to help them reach their potential.
9. You willingly accept feedback. You accept help from others. You have an open mind and enjoy working with others.
10. You plan your career in years or months. You imagine who you’ll be in one to five years’ time. You begin doing the groundwork now for what you want it to look like.
If you see yourself in any of these areas, you have the signs of a strategy thinker. You most likely carry these traits out in every area of your life.
How Thinking Strategically Can Give You A Competitive Edge in Business
Everyone wants to have an edge when they are doing business. After all, being the first to come out with a new innovative product puts you out in front of the competition.
But how can you do this? Will thinking strategically give you a competitive edge in business? And if so, how?
Why Competitive Edge Is Important
In today’s market, there are millions of products and services available to take care of the needs of individuals and businesses alike.
Being able to identify and exploit the features and benefits of your product or service and show how it is better or different from your competition is your competitive edge.
It will provide your business with the tools to increase sales, improve your profit margins, and ensure your business survival in a competitive market.
When you think strategically about how you can gain the competitive edge with your business you are able to come up with new and innovative ways or ideas for your service or product.
Thinking strategically requires you to constantly assess your business and the industry and apply any new insights. Your goal is to use the knowledge to reinforce how your company is different to achieve a competitive advantage.
This means making smart decisions on a daily basis and knowing where you are going. Look at your company. Research alternative diverse sources of information about your company, the competitors, and the industry.
Once you have this information, you’re equipped with the tools to develop new insights. Take time to re-think things and reflect on your options before you make a decision. Use the time to create innovative ideas and solutions.
Thinking strategically allows you to set up a plan, execute and adjust so that your product or service fits your customers’ needs better than your customer.
Using your skills of communication, listening, and asking questions you learn what they need, want and desire, you see where your competitors’ product or service is lacking and can find a way to fill that void.
The skills necessary for strategic thinking help you be innovative. Thinking outside the box, having an open mind, and showing empathy for your customers allows your creativity to open up possibilities.
Thinking strategically means you focus on the future. You anticipate what needs to happen, what can go wrong, and who you can work with. You’re able to see patterns and ways to connect them with new ones.
You’re able to interpret the information you’ve learned and turn it into a plan with actionable steps that lead to success.
Take the Next Step
Strategic thinking is a powerful tool that helps you gain a competitive advantage. It can potentially move your company into the future with new and innovative products or services.
Spend time gathering information on your competitors and their services or products. Analyse, interpret, and think outside the box as you develop your products.
Then, make a well-informed decision, set a goal, create a plan of execution, and follow through on your plan.
What Does It Really Mean to Think Strategically
“The purpose of life is a life of purpose” – Robert Byrne
Have you ever thought about what it means to think strategically? Does it mean to create strategies like in a war? Is it a skill you are born with or something you learn?
Strategic thinking seems like a vague buzzword that CEO`s toss around to sound important.
Actually, strategic thinking is a skill we can all learn. It is how we plan, think, and ask questions to grow and learn while we work toward a goal.
It’s embracing what you were like when you were young child and asking questions, most importantly, “why?”
Thinking strategically is based on a combination of knowledge, experiences, and your hunches. It’s about taking calculated and uncalculated risks that we hope will pay off in the future.
It’s about shifting your focus from just doing things to thinking and planning what should be getting done.
Three Behaviours That Inspire Thinking Strategically
Switching your focus is easier said than done. To cultivate a mind of thinking strategically, these three behaviours can help.
1. Question why. Don’t accept doing a task a certain way just because it’s the way it’s always been done. Ask yourself why it’s done that way. Or is there a better way to do it.
Thinking strategically is about knowledge so you can make an informed decision. Asking questions and listening to others’ opinions helps supply with the information you need to make a well-informed decision.
2. Observe everything. Spending every minute of your day just doing stuff and getting things done might seem productive. But it doesn’t allow for you to think strategically about what you are doing.
Instead take a step back occasionally and observe what’s going on. Look for areas that could be more efficient, who is doing what and how much each activity is helping things move forward.
Observe critically the big picture, and the way the pieces fit together.
3. Reflect on your day. Think about what gave you energy or took away your energy. Reflect on the activities that helped the organisation move ahead or were wasted time.
Reflection time each day allows you to ask yourself if you are on the right path, develop solutions, and stay on track with your goals. This is where inspiration and creativity have a chance to grow and be seen.
When you focus on doing and making something happen by doing this and doing that, you are working hard. But you are not thinking strategically. Of course, working and doing is necessary up to a point.
Instead stop focusing on just getting things done. Take a step back and set goals for what you want in the future and how you can help the organisation win.
Thinking strategically is inspiring. It helps you go from mindlessly going through the motions and commands of others to planning and observing and implementing in a way that gets you and your team to success of the goal.
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