In my strengths-based coaching work, I often get to coach highly strategic leaders. They have an amazing ability to see both the horizon and the next step. Their approach is very useful in dealing with complexity and uncertainty.
The complexity which we are all experiencing at the moment is fuelled by the erosion of our basic assumptions, the shifting of boundaries and rules, the lack of certainty and the real possibility of serious financial or personal loss.
These factors make decision-making difficult. However, they also make it urgent and important. The decisions which we make today will set us on a path to a future which seems to offer little latitude for mistakes. Personal, organisational and national decisions are going to matter.
Strategic thinkers do a few things really well.
They are purpose-driven and clear about their WHY. Unlike Achievers, they do not always have a fixed goal, but they do have a big picture intention. They find it difficult to take action and make progress if there is no clear, meaningful reason for doing so.
They look as far as they can see - just to the horizon. They don’t try to look too far ahead or to fix their destination too specifically. Scenario planning and scanning exercises help to identify a few alternative horizons and to highlight obstacles or risks along the route. As they move towards the horizon it automatically shifts, with the future becoming more visible and understandable and new opportunities and threats emerging.
They take the next steps towards the horizon - not always in a straight line. True strategic thinkers move forward in the direction which makes most logical sense given where they are heading and what is in front of them. They are good at intuitively sensing what the immediate terrain looks like and identifying potential obstacles that will need to be navigated or which might require a detour or additional steps.
They keep different options open where possible. Because these leaders expect challenges, roadblocks and detours, they don’t eliminate options too quickly. They usually have a rough plan B, C and even D in mind and try to take actions which could have alternative outcomes later down the track.
They listen, learn and test the ground ahead, for the best route. Strategic thinkers are very focused on emergence. They don’t expect much to be the same at the end of their journey as it is at the start. They know that they will change personally, that their context will change, that terrain which looks smooth and safe today may become treacherous once they get to that point and that storms will clear. So, they constantly learn and observe and then assimilate what they learn into their decision-making and planning. As a result, their route is seldom a straight line. They assimilate and adjust constantly,but always head ultimately towards the horizon.
If you are at a crossroads today, find out more about TalentID Personal Strategy Coaching.