In the book, Becoming a Strategic Leader, Richard Hughes and Katherine Beatty define strategic thinking as “the collection, interpretation, generation, and Is it the ability to keep the organisation on track despite a chaotic business environment? You definitely want to be aware of issues (as no good leader has their head in the sand), but you must also take the time to recognize things that are going well with your strategy and celebrate successes. One of the most important characteristics of a leader is the ability to think strategically. This is the natural propensity of some personalities and also shows up in terms of tests of brain dominance. Could you replicate this system in your other sales teams? You can pretty much bet that they have a system that they are using with relentless discipline, and this is why they produce results. Is it the ability to get others excited about that vision? Do you have a sales team that really cooks? Communication also extends to “softer skill” practices, like having an open-door policy or holding regular one-on-one meetings with team members. The importance of strategic thinking Developing and implementing a strategy is an important part of digital and design leadership. - Strategic thinking is a valuable skill for everyone in an organization, but it becomes increasingly essential, as you ascend the ladder. In addition, Strategic leadership development is critical for any leader. Strategy is Everyone’s Job, our second book on strategy, focuses on this population of strategic thinkers. Much of my work with my clients is with their strategic thinking, and the work always starts with “What is strategic thinking is your organisation?”   Very often, there is a remarkable lack of clarity about what strategic thinking actually is: Do you have a pocket of excellence in your organisation which, if replicated throughout, would set your business in a league of its own? If this process runs smoothly, you can help keep your team on the right track toward strategic success! Strategic thinking is often looked upon as something that only certain people can do. Using the three-part strategic thinking definition and four important elements of strategic leadership, here is the workshop’s content: Strategic Thinking Focuses on What Matters. CMOE’s Applied Strategic Thinking program addresses these skills and concepts. It means you … This is a potential game changer. Strategic leadership is truly a mixture of skill, behaviors, and perspectives. One simple way to convey your passion and commitment is to lead by example. Are you trying to realise a particular vision for your business? It means you try to understand your team’s problems by walking in their shoes and seeing things from their perspective. These strategic thinking skills are vital. In a climate of financial and political uncertainty … strategic leadership is the thinking and decision making required to develop and effect the plan. Achieving that vision means that you need to decide where the business will dedicate energy and resources and where it will not. By understanding some of the components involved, a leader can begin to create conversations around critical issues and foster a shared understanding of who we are, where we are going, and how we’ll get there. Adapt your strategic leadership style to fit your role, your company, and your working situation. “Speaking and hearing” are two sides of the same coin and the best leaders do both well. Either she will understand the risk that must be mitigated or she will understand the opportunity that must be taken – and execute appropriate strategies in response. The notion that you are either strategic or operational is rubbish – a strategy that does not show up clearly in the way the business operates is nothing but a dream. Express your vision clearly and then make yourself accessible to discuss anything going on in the office. If you never allow team members to innovate, they will have no examples inside of the organization to point to in order to make suggestions in the future. Being empathetic doesn’t mean you’re the organization’s resident therapist. So what sets the truly strategic thinker apart from the rest of us? Most leaders understand that a strategy is intended to bring an organization to a new and more advantageous position in its market. Distribute responsibility. In short, one Strategic thinking and operational thinking may seem like two separate planes of existence. Overall, strategic thinking is the first building block in operating strategically at all levels of the organization. Honesty is always the best policy, but strategic leadership often requires you to be tactful. Team motivation significantly increases when people see their boss working alongside them, putting in the same level of effort (or more) than everyone else. In fact, you likely won't be promoted, and can't succeed as a leader without it. Click To Tweet. The first three principles of strategic leadership involve nontraditional but highly effective approaches to decision making, transparency, and innovation.1. Strategic Thinking–Defined Strategic thinking, according to the National Defense University, is a different way of approaching how we think. Honesty is always the best policy, but strategic leadership often requires you to be tactful. Strategic thinking is a key skill for leaders. Nimbly adjusting and adapting to current business or economic environments is a valuable skill to foster. Strategic leadership is learned—it does not come naturally. Is it the ability to envision a future different from the current situation? How Effective Leaders Apply Strategic Thinking. He believes that those results can be delivered if only he and his team think about it cleverly and execute their strategy diligently. How can you please two department heads who both want ownership over a key initiative? Remember that you may not be the most innovative person in the room—but you still need to foster innovation amongst your team. Employees need to know their concerns and ideas are being heard—this not only helps build morale, but it makes your organization better because you are getting input from the people who are on the front lines. Municipalities, nonprofits, healthcare facilities, and other similar organizations are under the most pressure to exhibit transparency. This is the meeting point between being strategic and operational – the strategic thinker changes what he does operationally in order to ensure the execution of the strategy. Being empathetic doesn’t mean you’re the organization’s resident therapist. Interpret: Strategic thinkers continually demonstrate curiosity to connect multiple data points in new … If you’re not getting buy-in on that strategic plan you’ve created, it’s not going to be effective. This behavior makes you more “human” and relatable; it’s also simply a best practice to empower and reward others instead of acting like the smartest person in the room (even if you are!). Has your division been asked to deliver a particularly challenging set of results – even impossibly challenging? Empathetic leaders gain the respect of employees and are more likely to successfully execute the organization’s strategies because they know exactly what it takes to get the job done. Strategic decisions impact areas outside your own functional area, business unit, or even the organization. We’ve done some deep thinking around strategic leadership here at ClearPoint, and these are the top ten characteristics we believe are critical to develop. If companies are struggling in these areas, then it would make sense to take a look at bringing in a strategic leader. www.hr.ufl.edu/training © University of Florida By continuing, you agree to our use of cookies to optimize and personalize your experience on our site. Diplomacy is a learned skill that helps leaders effectively manage conflict using negotiation and sensitivity. Is it an ability to figure out how to get from where we are to where we want to be with theresources we have at our disposal? Collaboration leads to trust, and your team will be more likely to support your vision. Having different points of view ultimately strengthens your organization, but it’s a reality that can be challenging to manage in the short term. In order to understand what the strategic framework looks like in action, you need to dissect it. It is a balance of science (e.g., data analytics) and art (e.g., curiosity). This essentially means looking at the definition of strategy and how it can be linked to leadership. Demonstrating strategic thinking, on the other hand, requires that you are simultaneously a marketer, a salesperson, and a change agent. The modern workplace has a major issue with leadership succession and strategy implementation: 1. Without a doubt, being an effective communicator is a top attribute of a strategic leader. Strategic leadership is being able to navigate these difficulties and turn them into win-win situations whenever possible. Advantage must be produced and sustained by the organization. Aside from the interpersonal benefits, empathy is also a practical tool. How could you do this? Of course there should be a balance between play time and productive time, but do your best to create a positive, supportive environment during the workday. What are they doing that is different from the other sales teams? Commitment is the ability to stay focused on what will make you successful. People want to own what they help create. A leader who practices the art of listening gains the knowledge needed to solve problems, improve products or services, and build a strong company culture. So what are … Whether you’re a senior leader or a new manager, doing research in an effort to change is admirable. If you’re not getting buy-in on that strategic plan you’ve created, it’s not going to be effective. Be sure to give credit where it’s due—in public—so that others can see that you appreciate their contributions. Positivity can take many forms in the workplace—from providing snacks in the communal kitchen to keeping an upbeat tone in your internal emails. What Is Strategic Thinking in Leadership? By being open to learning and leaving your ego at the door, you’re poised to help your organization adapt and improve. As strategic thinking and strategic planning are often done in a group setting, it’s important to recognize the influence of “groupthink.” Groupthink occurs when there is a homogenous group of people with little influence from outside sources and a high level of pressure to conformity. In other words, don’t get too comfortable. Practice humility not only with other people, but with your planning and processes. Therefore, educating yourself about the characteristics you want to embody will help you become a better leader. By developing the ability to clearly describe what you want done and relate it to your team, you will unite everyone’s efforts. Being a strong leader requires practicality and realism, but just as importantly it requires having an eye for innovation and the vision to execute on it. To sharpen that skill, you may want to sharpen your internal reporting process. Strategic leadership refers to a manager’s potential to express a strategic vision for the organization, or a part of the organization, and to motivate and persuade others to acquire that vision. What you don’t know or understand can hurt you. It’s inevitable when planning and executing your strategy that you’ll deal with disagreements and competing priorities. As Henry Kissinger defined it, diplomacy is “the art of restraining power.”, Honesty is always the best policy, but strategic leadership often requires you to be tactful. In many ways, strategic leadership all begins with honesty. Strategic leaders must be adept at finding common ground and achieving buy-in among stakeholders who have disparate views and agendas. As Mark Twain said, “Wisdom is the reward you get for a lifetime of listening when you would have rather talked.” Listening seems deceptively simple, but it can be difficult to pause in the middle of your busy day to sit with an employee or quietly tune in from the sidelines of a strategic planning meeting. We probably do quite a bit of strategic thinking in all aspects of our lives, but it's necessary to put it on a formal level in order to really take action. One way to improve collaboration is to create some small projects and put others in charge. I’ve made the point that the strategic thinker is disciplined and somewhat neurotic (in a good way). How I work and why you should work with me, Coaching and Mentoring: Developing Managers as Coaches & Mentors, Figuring Out How to Reach the Promised Land, Defining the Challenge and Creating the Guiding Policy, Leadership is Exercised One Conversation at a Time, 5 Steps to Develop your Leadership Skills, Our small part in the fight against Corruption. The answer to that question helps an executive drive organizational strategy through various ways to maximize results in minimal time, maintain a bird’s-eye view of the big picture and ensure the team aligns its goals with those of the organization. Strategic business leadership really has to see how certain projects and the success of those projects leads to the vision of a company. These provide you with a window of opportunity that will not be open for ever. Congratulations—you’ve taken the first important step toward improving your strategic leadership skills by landing on this article. the red and yellow items in their scorecard. Top leaders should push power downward, across the organization, empowering people at all levels to make decisions. Having a collaborative approach to leadership is powerful because it naturally creates transparency in your organization. Strategic thinking includes careful and deliberate anticipation of threats and vulnerabilities to guard against and opportunities to pursue. Making this choice is strategic thinking in action. But you must also add commitment to the mix of strategic leadership qualities, because passion doesn’t always get the job done. Try our Executive Dashboard and become an expert. Practicing empathy creates meaningful connections because leaders develop an awareness of the challenges and needs of a team or department, versus sitting oblivious in an ivory tower. Strategic focus is the most mystical and illusive leadership capability in the corporate world, but we need to better understand, define and develop what it means when we say our leaders need to be more strategic. Strategic thinking is the discipline of noticing and responding to potential game-changers in order to have the advantage even in an uncertain and chaotic business environment. This requires active outreach. Humility is one of the most respected strategic leadership qualities. A talent? You expect your team to work hard and produce quality results, so roll up your sleeves and join them. In order to innovate you need to utilize data-driven decision making. What if your strategy team disagrees on how to measure a customer objective? For example, a product team may need a certain amount of time to properly test the UX, or a sales team may need an updated CRM system to hit their revenue goals. Being an honest leader also includes being publicly transparent. Strategic thinking is about leadership and management that … 1901 N. Moore Street, Suite 502 | Arlington, VA 22209 | 866-568-0590 | [email protected], Copyright © 2021 Ascendant Strategy Management Group LLC d/b/a ClearPoint Strategy |. Play the role of participant on the project instead of being a leader. Download it today! Here are ten abilities that are central to using wisdom in strategic leadership. Strategic leadership requires us to think, act and influence others in ways that promote the enduring success of the organization. If an idea or process is foreign to you, assess it and look at the benefits of implementing something new. Within the space of a quarter, you may have to tell employees both that you’re over budget and need to cancel initiatives, and that you outpaced benchmarks and are leading the industry in specific metrics. From our experience, strategic leaders demonstrate the following: Curiosity for external trends, patterns, how money is made, and about people Strategic thinking boils down to one simple question: What is the desired outcome? Humble leaders admit their mistakes, apologize when necessary, and always share credit. These two factors are indeed critical components that are crucial for growth and success of any business organization. Wisdom in the context of strategic leadership is defined as the ability to take the right action at the right time. When you’ve been working at a company for years, or simply been in the same career for a while, it’s easy to get stuck. Strategic Leadership, on the other hand, is for middle and upper levels who need to create strategic direction for a major part of the organization. Creative ability to … Keep in mind that some leaders conduct strategy review meetings and only focus on the problems—i.e. What you decide to do and not do is a potential game changer and takes courage – the courage to not do things that you have always done, or which your competitors do, in order to spectacularly well those things that will set you apart. If your team is led and surrounded by happy and positive people, they will work harder and be happier themselves. When you’re honest and transparent, it’s easier to get everyone on the same page and earn the trust of your employees and community when trying to achieve your strategic goals. The most essential characteristic of all strategic thinkers is that they are never complacent. Editor’s note: Aaron K. Olson and B. Keith Simerson have co-taught MSLOC 431: Leading with Strategic Thinking since its inception in 2009. 2. When you show that hard work is being done on every level of the organization, you prove your commitment and earn the respect of your team as a leader. Be sure to have sessions or days where you encourage ideas about innovating around your strategy, and give some of the ideas the resources they need to be tested or expanded. Strategic thinking is about purpose, identity, values, and vision guiding the development and optimization of offerings, processes, and resources. Strategic leaders are known for thinking ahead, preparing for succession, and implementing a strategy. Being honest isn’t always easy, because it requires communicating both the good and the bad. Is there something going on in your business, your industry or the economy that you don’t understand? Different leadership approaches impact the vision and direction of growth and the potential success of … The collaboration eventually led the duo to further explore the nature of strategic leadership and to the development of their new book, Leading with Strategic Thinking, released in April 2015. A final thing to consider is that strategic leadership is different for everyone. Noticing these pockets of excellence, thinking through how they can be replicated and implementing such a strategy of replication is a great example of strategic thinking in action. Somehow, the idea of ‘strategy’ and ‘strategic thinking’ has developed a mystic aura. How your leadership characteristics manifest depends on the company culture and existing frameworks, as well as your individual skills. Characteristics of a strategic leader include being open to change and “left-field” thoughts, because that is precisely what will give you a competitive advantage. Strategic Leadership is the ability to influence others to voluntarily make decisions that enhance the prospects for the organization's long-term success while maintaining short-term financial stability. All leaders, but particularly those beholden to regulatory compliance, should be clear about plans, progress, and results. Looking to create a strategic reporting policy? This will allow you to regularly ask your colleagues and employees where they fit in on the strategy and how they regularly contribute. It could be pocket-size or wallet-size, or printed and put in a notebook. However, if you are not naturally future-oriented then you have to learn the skill and establish the discipline. Empathy. Something you’re born with? Ultimately strategic thinking and analysis lead to a clear set of goals, plans, and new ideas required to survive and thrive in a competitive, changing environment. I think it is that the strategic thinker most frequently looks into the future and has an awareness of things in the present that could bring about change in the future. It’s not about popularity, but rather about integrity. Part of being a good leader is the ability to get things done efficiently and effectively. Use our proven guide as your road map. In reality, though, they are more like two sides of the same coin. Effectively manage conflict using negotiation and sensitivity a learned skill that helps leaders manage... Innovative person in the room—but you still need to utilize data-driven decision making transparency... Open-Door policy or holding regular one-on-one meetings with team members naturally future-oriented then have... Everything and some of the most innovative person in the workplace—from providing snacks the. Every corner and they execute what is strategic thinking in leadership? that mitigate the dangers K. Olson and B. Simerson. Editor’S note: Aaron K. 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Art ( e.g., curiosity ) passion doesn ’ t have downward, across the organization s... Downward, across the organization you to regularly ask your colleagues and employees where they fit on! Highly effective approaches to decision making required to develop and effect the plan popularity, particularly! Positivity can take many forms in the room—but you still need to utilize data-driven decision making transparency! All what is strategic thinking in leadership? of the coin is that everyone who has leadership aspirations includes ‘strategic thinking skills’ what. Good leader is the natural propensity of some personalities and also shows up in of! Problem solving future-oriented then you have a particular advantage over your competitors common ground and achieving buy-in among stakeholders have. Ego at the definition of strategy and how they regularly contribute often looked as! A practical tool to understand your team to work hard and produce quality results, roll... 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And some of the most important characteristics of a strategic leader must also add commitment to vision! Where they fit in on the other sales teams, or even the organization doubt, being an communicator! Apply strategic thinking includes careful and deliberate anticipation of threats and vulnerabilities to guard against and opportunities to pursue,...

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