The directive to be a “more strategic thinker” is said so often (and with so little precision) that it often comes across as cliché. Nevertheless, the ability to think strategically is invaluable for leaders and aspiring leaders.
Reduced to its essence, strategic thinking is the ability to “look up” from your day-to-day work tasks and responsibilities, and observe and think about the larger world in which your are operating. From an organizational perspective, consider data, ideas, and trends beyond the horizon line. How might your day-to-day work connect to the long-term health and direction of your company?
Consider: what would your CEO or SVP do? What are your senior leaders thinking about?
- Trends in the economy?
- Trends in your industry and changes in your company’s market?
- How your company’s culture contributes (or impedes) its success?
- Different ways to operate to achieve high-level organizational goals?
If you were a member of senior leadership, what would your biggest concerns be? What kinds of opportunities would you be seeking? For more about strategic thinking, read Arden Coaching’s blog posts, “How to Become a Strategic Thinker,” and “Five Ways to Progress From Worker Bee to Strategic Asset.”
Start with Your Mindset
An effective way to work on your strategic thinking skills is to begin with your mindset. As seasoned executive coaches, we’ve seen the amazing correlation between mindset and success and growth — including strategic thinking abilities — in our clients.
Our mindset is the mixture of attitudes, beliefs, and assumptions about how the world works and who we are. Mindset is our “frame of mind”: our uniquely personal interpretation of the facts. Everything we experience — any story we run through our head — from a meeting that tests our patience to the way in which a subordinate reacts to a new work assignment, is a blend of fact and our translation of those facts.
Our mindset is like a pair of colored glasses through which we see the world and interpret its meaning. Our interpretations determine our experience of life. Since interpretations are “made up” by us, we can work to change those interpretations and have a different experience.
Explore your current beliefs and assumptions. Explore possible beliefs and alternative assumptions and interpretations. What aspects of your mindset are helping you think strategically? What aspects may be holding you back? For more about mindset, read Arden Coaching’s blog, “Shape Your Mindset: How Do You Choose to View the World?” and “Mindful Leadership and Self-Awareness.”
Change Your Relationship with the World
A practice of reflecting on, and deliberately adapting, your mindset will help you in many ways, including your ability to think more strategically. We must be willing to modify our mindset if we want to successfully make changes in our careers — or any aspect of our life. You will find this awareness, and the ability to adapt and shape your mindset, truly transformative.
To learn more about mindset, strategic thinking, and executive leadership, contact Arden Coaching at [email protected] or 646.684.3777.