The future is coming fast. In this ever-changing, turbulent business environment, we must be prepared to think consciously and deliberately about where we want to go and how we can shape the future. Strategic thinking in leadership means having the capacity to anticipate, the discipline to prepare now, and the ability to position yourself to compete and win in the future.

businessman looking at the gap in front of him

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What is Strategic Thinking in Leadership?

Strategic thinking is a long term thought process to achieve a successful team or company. This means having the capacity to anticipate, the discipline to prepare now, and the ability to position yourself to compete and win in the future.

New leaders at any level must be able to mobilize and focus resources and energy on the priorities that will ensure future business success. The problem that leaders face in becoming more strategic is that society, in general, is addicted to short-term thinking.

Routine activities seduce leaders into a very tactical state of mind. They worry about managing to-do lists, reaching short-term goals, and meeting today’s production schedule. When they see sales numbers drop, they react with a short-term, patch-up solution. They put out the urgent fires and fail to think long term. They simply overlook opportunities to see their situation from a strategic perspective. Too often, they focus on making it through the current crisis, managing today’s demands at the expense of the future.

What Is the Importance of Strategic Thinking in Leadership?

When a leader is able to consider strategic thinking, they gain an important skill. Strategic thinking helps leaders develop a clear vision and direction for the team. They are able to work through unknown situations and gain abilities to reason, learn, and make decisions that enable employees to push forward in the face of setbacks. These skills can help team members identify and capitalize on opportunities.

6 Strategies to Foster Strategic Thinking

No matter where you might be in your leadership role, it is never too late to begin thinking and acting more strategically. CMOE has helped leaders all over the globe acquire the skills they need to become strategic thinkers. The following elements of strategic thinking can be used as standalone skills or linked together to create a robust strategic-thinking process.

1. Make Time to Plan Ahead

When a leader is able to make time to plan ahead, they can more fully reflect on the future of their long-term goals, as well as those of their team. This means creating time to reflect on the future. Extra time doesn’t just appear out of nowhere. The routine activities that consume leaders’ time aren’t bad in and of themselves. In fact, they are essential to keeping the business running smoothly. The key is that leaders must set firm boundaries and block out time to think strategically, too.

2. Look at Business Objectives From a Different Perspective

By changing your perspective, you can better determine the true competitive advantages of the business. This requires strategic thinking in leadership about how to optimize the investment of time, energy, and resources. A strategic dashboard can be created to identify strong strategic targets.

3. Gather Intelligence Data on an Ongoing Basis

As a leader, it’s essential to find reliable sources to collect intelligence data from, whether that is online through blogs, reviews, or even internally, This important activity allows a leader to make sense of what’s changing in the business world. Leaders must identify reliable sources of data, be willing to explore what they learn and draw conclusions about patterns they see in the market and with competitors.

4. Analyze Opposing Forces, Anticipate Scenarios, Make a Plan, and Move Forward

Opposing forces are those that currently stand between you and your future success. By considering how to think strategically as a leader, you are better able to assess and capitalize on enabling forces that will work to your advantage. Then, you can look ahead, anticipate scenarios, and envision how events might unfold in the future. With this information, you plan out your course of action and then take the plunge.

5. Engage in Continuous Learning

Professional development should be ongoing even for leaders. As leaders grow in their roles, staying updated on industry developments and trends is essential. This may include engaging in continuing education or professional development courses to capitalize on skills and adapt to changing market conditions.

Continuous learning injects a big-picture perspective, allowing leaders to set up relevant strategies that will be advantageous for their team and organization in the future.

6. Invite Feedback

Strategic thinkers are confident in their decision-making abilities. What helps with this confidence is feedback. Employing the expertise and strengths of colleagues not only helps you gain a holistic view of the matter at hand but also opens the door to collaboration. This collaborative approach encourages you to examine the topic from various lenses and make smarter decisions.

Building Strategic Leaders

Strategic leaders have the ability to mobilize people, accelerate efforts, and sustain progress, and as the plan is implemented, they keep their people aligned and informed.

Strategic thinking isn’t simple or easy, but leaders will be much more successful if they focus on developing these skills. CMOE helps leaders learn and apply the strategic-thinking skills that will have a positive impact on the future of your business. To learn more, contact us today!

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About the Author
CMOE’s Design Team is comprised of individuals with diverse and complementary strengths, talents, education, and experience who have come together to bring a unique service to CMOE’s clients. Our team has a rich depth of knowledge, holding advanced degrees in areas such as business management, psychology, communication, human resource management, organizational development, and sociology.

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