Do You Think Strategically? Tips for Flexing Your Strategic Planning Muscles

Thinking strategically is ultimately what keeps businesses striving toward their long-term goals for the good of the company. If you haven’t worked out your planning muscles in a while or think you could do better, check out Arden Coaching’s list of strategic thinking tips for a wider view and a bigger impact!

Get on Your Boss’ Level

Leaders Think StrategicallyExecutives are more of a guiding force in the bigger picture, setting plans, standards, and goals that extend well beyond the project level. Sometimes they’re required to coordinate with another department, speak to a board, or pitch to outside clients. Team members are more likely to be consumed with the technical side of tasks and initiatives. Team players can improve their strategic planning by challenging themselves to think on their boss’ level. Here’s what you need to do:

Look Outside and Look Inside

Look Outside: There are some ways to widen your lens and think bigger. The simplest ones involve paying attention to what the market leaders in your sector are talking about. Subscribe to newsletters from the top thought leaders in your space and spend a few minutes catching up with industry news each day.

For example, if you design sportswear, you might look to inspiration from the Olympics or new fabrics you see come down the catwalk during Fashion Week to get into more of a strategic mindset.

Look Inside: If you’re someone who’s entrenched in a technical position, try applying your advanced knowledge to better the bigger picture at your company. Figure out something you’ve experienced that executives three levels above you may not have. Maybe you work in advertising and recognize an opportunity with a client who’s wasting millions of dollars a year on an ineffective software. You may use your granular know-how to standardize the software for the client, leading to a major, strategic-level win.

Ask Why Instead of How

Another way to tap into a strategic perspective is to ask less specific, detail-oriented questions and start asking more open-ended, broader questions. Asking how is indicative of fleshing out technical steps, while asking why can instantly put you on a larger, more strategic course of action.

For example, asking “Why should we make the brochure blue instead of orange?” is a much larger, more strategic branding question compared to “How should we make the brochure blue instead of orange?”

Bring Your Strategic Thinking Full Circle

At the helm of multiple departments and company-wide initiatives, upper executives tend to follow a broader line of thinking. But getting into a strategic mindset isn’t always easy. For executives who feel as though they’ve lost touch with the larger picture in their ongoing planning, one-on-one coaching may be the right solution for helping them find new perspectives and continue developing their strategic thinking skills.

Not sure if executive coaching is right for you? Download Arden Coaching’s free eBook How Does an Executive Coaching Engagement Work? for an introduction to our coaching process, testimonials from past clients, and much more.



How Does an Executive Coaching Engagement Work?