For leaders, some of the most difficult tasks in business are strategic thinking and the executing of strategic planning. It’s much easier to revert to tactical or task oriented thinking when you manage large groups of people, teams or even projects. The ability to anticipate major shifts in your marketplace while identifying emerging opportunities sets leaders and businesses up for success. Every industry is affected by change, and strategic thinking is an approach to preparing for these developments and having plans to adapt to them. Great leaders are consistently improving how they evaluate challenges and react to change. Because strategy is a crucial pillar to an organization’s success and culture, how can you ensure you’re taking the steps needed to improve your strategic thinking skills?
1. Question Your Own Knowledge
One of the worst things a leader can do is assume they are always right. Playing it safe and taking opinions at face value can make decisions easier, but it also runs the risk of missing a new opportunity for success. When leaders question the status quo, they open the door for evaluating other people’s suggestions and input.
Albert Einstein said, “We cannot solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.”
2. Embrace the Value of Alternative Viewpoints
It can be dangerous surrounding yourself with only people who agree with you or have the same experiences and backgrounds. You should be weary of falling into the trap of group think, especially when it comes to strategic thinking. Lack of information can lead to poor decisions and missed opportunities. As a leader, you need to build your teams with a wide range of knowledge, strengths, and backgrounds. Different thinking methods and experiences help everyone develop more thorough thought processes that elevate the quality of teamwork.
3. Make Time to Process
Running from meeting to meeting, or putting out fires left and right can feel like all you have time for as a leader. It can seem difficult to contribute strategically without having the time to reflect on the issues and think about options. You should recognize you aren’t bringing your full value to the table as a leader when you have time to evaluate decisions. It’s important to make time to interpret differing opinions and multiple sources of information to process accordingly.
Strategic thinking is a valuable skill that is creative, dynamic and powerful. Great leaders are lifelong learners, and this comes with practice. Leaders who make this a central element of their management philosophy often become better strategic thinkers as time goes on. Improving this skill can energize you and your interactions with your teams while preparing you for the unknown of the future in both business and personal endeavors.