It’s not easy to think big picture, to envision long-term results. But the best leaders apply strategic thinking to their everyday problems and decisions.
It’s important to cultivate strategic thinking in emerging leaders. According to research published in the Harvard Business Review, executives choose “strategic” behaviors as the most critical to their companies’ success 97% of the time.
What is strategic thinking?
Strategic leaders take a broad, long-range approach to problem-solving and decision-making that involves objective analysis and planning ahead. Strategic thinking involves two major components:
Systems thinking: Strategic thinkers are able to identify the impact of their decisions on various segments of the organization, including other departments, cross-functional partners, and customers.
Future thinking: Strategic thinkers are able to think in multiple timeframes, identifying their goals over time—what has to happen now, in six months, in a year, in three years—to get there.
The 4 Beyonds Model
The 4 Beyonds Model is a framework for stretching leaders to think strategically beyond their immediate work demands.
Beyond Your Goal: What organizational goal or vision does your decision serve?
Beyond Your Function: What impact will this decision have on other departments and cross-functional partners?
Beyond Your Organization: What industry or market trend is your decision based on?
Beyond Now: What does success look like in the next quarter? The next year?
With the 4 Beyonds model, employees and emerging leaders can begin to apply strategic thinking to immediate, everyday decisions. These skills will help improve a company’s cross-functional collaboration, stakeholder engagement, and problem-solving.
Ultimately, strategic thinking encourages the most promising leaders to think beyond, to their own futures and the future of their workplaces.