Now Discover Your Strengths by Marcus Buckingham is a great tool to help you identify your strengths, providing access to an assessment which determines your top strengths or “talent themes.” Using this book and the assessment, I learned that one of my top strengths is as a strategic thinker (in addition to learner and responsibility themes).
Most of us tend to overlook our strengths; because they seem natural and effortless to us, we assume everyone has the same skills. This is not the case, however. I was recently asked to coach an employee to be more strategic. I know that this is considered a strength, and I know instinctively that it is something I personally do well. But to coach it, define it, and build it as a skill in someone else was something new (the challenge was exciting though).
Since my other strength is as a learner, I’m a big fan of reading and listening to books. I immediately began doing research to determine how best to teach strategic thinking skills. Through my subscription to Audible, I downloaded “The Great Courses: Strategic Thinking Skills.” Perfect! Aside from the rhetoric about war and fighting as the initial context and development of strategic thinking, I found the information fascinating.
Here’s a quick overview of what I learned about recognizing what is – and isn’t – strategic thinking:
1. Strategic Thinkers go beyond planning. People mistakenly identify a game plan as synonymous with a strategic plan. A game plan is typically the identified course to achieving a goal; what steps will you take to get to your goal? Strategic thinking goes beyond this. It includes identifying those elements that could go wrong and the external variables that could interfere with progress, and creating contingencies to make progress in spite of obstacles.
2. Strategic Thinkers understand the importance of maneuvering. If you’ve ever heard of a “decision-tree,” you’ll understand the concept of maneuvering. A decision-tree refers to the steps in making a decision along a defined path, with several mini-decisions along the way. Consider a game of chess, in which it is essential to think several steps ahead. In order to do so, you need to be adaptable, considering what the other plays may be and how you would respond if your opponent moves this way versus that way.
3. Strategic Thinkers make decisions using both intellect and intuition. The first part in making an effective decision has to do with gathering Intel and collecting information about your opponent so you can plan wisely. There are times, however, when you must take decisive action. Strategic thinkers recognize their intuition and understand it is valuable information. Thus they are able to make decisions while using both the head and the heart.
If you’d like to be more strategic in your business, make sure you have a solid game plan and then do a SWOT Analysis (identifying Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats). To learn more and start developing your own strategic plan, go to www.SurpassYourGoal.com.