Strategic thinking comes naturally for me. I have tons of weaknesses, but thinking in a strategic sense is not one of them. If anything, I’m so strategic that it becomes a weakness. I’m not sure, however, that all leaders naturally think strategically. For defining purposes, I’m using the word strategy to involve thinking through the how, when, where, who and what questions when making a decision.
As a leader, I am very familiar with the “gut call” of leadership; where a leader must make quick, decisive decisions. (I even wrote about that concept HERE.) All leaders, however, if they want to be successful, must use strategy when making decisions. Developing loyal followers and protecting the organization’s future demands strategic thinking, so all leaders must learn to think strategically. Often that comes through discipline, if not through personal wiring. Thankfully, not all decisions a leader makes requires using strategy, but when it does…
Here are four times the leader must think strategically:
The answer is uncertain - I love risk, but the leader must weigh the risk with the future of the organization. Ultimately the leader has responsibility for the success of the organization, so a leader has to make final calls as to whether or not a risk is worth the risk. That requires strategic thinking.
The issue affects more than the leader - One flaw in leadership is when the leader thinks only about how he or she views the decision and not how the decision affects other people. The wise leader thinks strategically to determine the people aspect of a decision.
The issue is subject to resistance – Most change is subject to resistance, but if a decision is automatically going to involve a battle for acceptance, then a leader must strategically plan the way the decision is introduced and implemented.
The issue changes an agreed upon direction – When people get excited about a direction the organization is going and they invest their heart and energy into heading in that direction, they are naturally more resistant to a change in the direction. Good leaders think strategically how this change will be received and how it should be communicated so people transfer enthusiasm for the new direction.
Leaders, what do you think? Are you strategically thinking through important decisions?
Followers, have you seen these areas backfire against a leader who fails to think strategically?
What would you add to my list?