“Life is a sum of all our choices” – Albert Camus
Maybe you’ve never heard the term strategic thinker, or you’ve been told you need to be a strategic thinker. There’s a good chance you might be one already. Strategic thinking is a type of mindset, a soft skill if you will, that requires you to analyze the present to shape the future for yourself and your organization.
Look for the following signs to help you see what attributes a strategic thinker has.
- You are inclined to self-reflect. You find yourself regularly reflecting on tasks you’ve already completed, conversations you’ve had, or the experiences you hoped would have gone differently. Strategic thinkers can take apart an event after it’s over to understand it fully and then adopt that knowledge for learning to do better next time. You relive key moments so they can understand the bigger picture.
- You’re always asking questions. When you don’t understand something, you want to ask questions. Some people don’t bother to do this or aren’t sure how to ask the right questions. They simply make assumptions or do the project and then ask questions later.
- You are continually trying to learn, working ahead to understand, or heading off potential problems, you are a strategic thinker. You ask questions like: “What’s the desired outcome and who benefits? Why is this important to us? Who will this decision affect? What will this mean to our team a month from now? If this doesn’t work what is the fallback plan?”
- You don’t waste effort by duplicating efforts. You become frustrated when two or more parties are performing the same work or some of the same tasks that end up wasting resources and time.
- You compartmentalize distractions easily. You find it easy to group and sort your many responsibilities. You push distractions aside and focus on what your most immediate task is. You don’t shut down mentally or start to panic at the thought of having multiple tasks that have to be seen to completion at the same time or soon after each other.
- You are decisive when necessary. You gather the necessary information competently while keeping a cool head. You don’t allow a difficult decision to cause you stress. You are confident and knowledgeable in your choice.
- You set goals for yourself on a regular basis. You break down major goals into smaller tasks. You understand why something is worth the time it takes to do. You get excited about setting professional and personal goals for yourself. You have an eye toward your future.
- You’re thrilled to help others be their best. You want to help them reach their potential.
- You willingly accept feedback. You accept help from others. You have an open mind and enjoy working with others.
- You plan your career in years or months. You imagine who you’ll be in one to five years’ time. You begin doing the groundwork now for what you want it to look like.
If you see yourself in any of these areas, you have the signs of a strategic thinker. You most likely carry these traits out in every area of your life.