4 ways to become a better strategic thinker

By Anne Bachrach

A.M. Enterprises (The Accountability Coach)

Becoming a strategic thinker is not always easy for someone who has already met with a certain level of success. As a successful businessperson in your own right, you have no doubt done a lot of grunt work up to this point. You have been on the computer, met with clients, talked to investors, cleaned the office, answered the phone and ordered take-out many a night. You are probably used to doing things yourself and used to having them done right, which is exactly why it can be tough for someone in your shoes to move on to the level of becoming a strategic thinker.

In moving on to this level, you will be forced to take yourself out of some of the day-to-day functions of your business and to put yourself into more of a strategist role, but this is sometimes difficult if you are not used to it. If you have already made strides in this direction, then you will likely find that continuing in this direction will be fairly easy; but if you are just now hiring new people and looking to move forward, you might have a bit of adjustment in store on the horizon.

1. Always think critically

As a leader, it is important that you learn not to take everything at face value. A lot of people, both from within and from the outside, will try to run your business and tell you what to do. A critical thinker, however, can sidestep this conventional confusion by learning to reframe how they see problems. This can allow you to get to the root of what is causing a particular problem. Once you see what the cause is, you can strategically maneuver your resources to eliminate it.

Another aspect of critical thinking is the ability to challenge your current belief and mindset, regardless of what is going on around you. It is important to always be moving forward, and getting stuck in a current state of belief that you allow to rule you will keep you from being able to think critically about new dilemmas that might arise. Critical thinking can also help you to avoid manipulation and hypocrisy among those beneath you, because you will have learned to fully consider the problem, in all of its complexities, before you come to a solution.

2. Learn to anticipate

Part of becoming even more successful as a true strategic thinker involves learning to anticipate what could happen. Nowadays, a lot of managers and executives tend to have tunnel vision that leaves them blind to changes that could affect them down the road. As a successful professional, you no doubt know that anticipating changes can be important, but it is never too late to become even more proficient in this area.

Always be ready to anticipate changes that might come from beyond the boundaries of your business. Some of the changes that can have the biggest impact on your enterprise are those that are completely out of your control. This is why the most successful businesspeople have trained themselves to be aware of what could happen in any areas that could affect them — even those located outside of their own businesses.
3. Be decisive

Practicing the ability to be decisive will definitely help you to become a better strategic thinker. As a leader, one of the worst habits that you can fall into is the inability to make (and stick to) a swift, firm decision. You don’t have to be hasty, but realize that those underneath you are going to be watching you (in addition to clients and prospective clients). If you always act as if you cannot decide what to do, they will begin to question whether or not you really know what you are doing.

Grow accustomed to taking in the information, figuring out a process for analyzing it and then making a decision based on everything that you know. If you make a mistake, then you can deal with it, but thinking strategically demands that you be a decisive individual.

4. Never stop learning

Becoming even more successful as a strategic thinker is all about using your brain to its fullest potential, and that includes learning all that you can. Learning is not always easy, but knowledge is power when it comes to business. You can never get too much of it. Always be ready and willing to learn, and never be too proud to ask questions if you might discover something that you never realized or understood existed before.

What can you do?

Developing your strategic thinking skills is going to be a great way to maximize your efforts at becoming even more successful. Make sure that you study the tips above, and practice their application to become an even better strategist.