Three Additional Ways to Develop a Strategic Mindset! (Part 2)
Are you a successful executor of operational, tactical, and interpersonal issues? Are you focused on getting projects done one time, solving complex operational problems, and resolving conflicts between subordinates? Do you assume that these successful execution activities will put you in a strong position for a higher-level post? According to Forbes, this is not enough, and you must invest in strategic thinking.
Developing great strategic thinking skills requires intentional effort. You need exposure to strategic roles and to develop a culture of curiosity while gathering “experiences that will allow you to identify patterns and connect the dots in novel ways.” The more you develop these skills, the better equipped you will be to solve complex problems, make decisions in the face of uncertainty, and use your knowledge to promote innovation and implement new ideas.
But how can you develop a more strategic mindset? In the final installment of this two-part series, we will focus on three additional steps to help you develop a more strategic perspective. Let’s get started!
1. Listen to Others’ Perspectives
Developing the ability to effectively listen to different perspectives is a fundamental step to strategic thinking. We are frequently tempted to immediately respond to comments, especially when they differ from ours. However, we need to be open to points of view that will challenge our opinions, beliefs, and viewpoints. They can be a unique opportunity to see different angles of the issue and consider perspectives that will amplify our vision and enhance the chances of strategic moves and innovation. Leaders who invest in listening enhance inclusivity and create more open and trusting relationships.
Melissa Daimler defines three listening levels in a very interesting HBR article focused on listening. Firstly, we should consider Internal Listening, which focuses on our thoughts and priorities. Then, there is Focused Listening, when we shift the focus to the other person, but we are not still fully connected to them. The final level is 360 Listening when we are able to listen not only to what the person is saying but also to read between the lines and understand what is not being said. We should avoid being clouded by our own thoughts and judgments and discover the many strategic insights we can get from actively focusing on our interlocutors’ perspectives.
2. Structure your Communication
Strategic thinking also requires you to develop the ability to communicate your strategic efforts proactively. Your boss wants to know what you think and whether you are able to make bigger and wiser strategic decisions. You need to work on demonstrating to different levels of the organization your skill and how you can use your knowledge to innovate and implement new ideas and courses of action. A recent article published by Forbes suggests two interesting sentences you can consider in future conversations: “I think this would better support our strategy if we…” and “How does what’s being suggested align with our strategy for this department?"
Developing well-structured verbal or written communication is key to making your strategic thinking message clear. Consider your audience and your main points. Work on prioritizing and sequencing your line of thought so that you can help your audience focus on your core message. Be succinct and logically order your main points.
3. Embrace Debate
Encourage your colleagues and team members to speak up and engage in positive debate. Remember that conflict, when handled well, can have very positive outcomes. It helps teams be more creative and innovative, strengthens bonds with co-workers, allows teams to synthesize different perspectives, contributes to well-thought-out solutions, and helps mitigate risks. Ask tough questions and invite challenges. Make sure you do not let it get personal and focus on the process as part of your strategic thinking development.
Becoming a more strategic thinker is a crucial part of your professional development. Consistently work on your listening skills, plan your communication carefully, be intentional about showing your leader and colleagues your strategic thoughts, and embrace debate as a very positive way of gathering diverse perspectives on different issues. This way, you will be able to make significantly better contributions to your organization at a strategic level.
Research indicates that 97% of senior leaders consider being strategic the most critical leadership behavior to their organizations’ success. Leader Essentials Group’s Developing your Strategic Mindset Master Class training provides your leadership team with tools to develop their skills in thinking more strategically to provide an even more impactful contribution to your organization’s future. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org or direct message us on LinkedIn to schedule a 15-minute telephone or virtual consultation to learn more and how we can partner with you to help you develop your employee’s strategic mindset!
People also read:
Vera Alves is the Chief Consulting Officer at Leader Essentials Group, with extensive experience in leadership development and business management. With over 12 years of experience as a C-suite executive, Vera is highly skilled in leadership, strategic planning, operations management, organizational behavior, and change management. She possesses highly developed communication, training, and linguistic skills reflective of a very strong and charismatic leadership style.
_________________________________________________________________________  Folkman, J. (2021). Strategic thinking: the pathway to the top. Forbes. Retrieved from Strategic Thinking: The Pathway To The Top (forbes.com), 02/05/2023.  Bowman, N. A. (2019). How to demonstrate your strategic thinking skills. Harvard Business Review. Retrieve from How to Demonstrate Your Strategic Thinking Skills (hbr.org), 02/05/2023.  Arhsad, R. (2023). The importance of listening for organizational success. Forbes. Retrieved from The Importance Of Listening For Organizational Success (forbes.com), 02/05/2023.  Daimler, M. (20216). Listening is an overlooked leadership tool. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from Listening Is an Overlooked Leadership Tool (hbr.org), 02/07/23.  Bowman, N. A. 4 ways to improve your strategic thinking skills. Harvard Business Review. Retrieved from 4 Ways to Improve Your Strategic Thinking Skills (hbr.org), 02/05/2023.  Gallo, A. (2017). Harvard Business Review Guide to Dealing with Conflict. Harvard Business Review Press.