May 11, 2012 by eric echols
Great leaders are great thinkers! Your ability to think strategically can separate you from the pack. But being a great thinker doesn’t mean that you have to always think “out of the box”. Learning to think strategically gives you a competitive advantage. Thinking allows you to gather and analyze the information, gives you the intuition to make the best decisions and enables you to put together plans to move the ball down the field.
A recent article in Forbes magazine identified five different types of thinking. To be a great strategic leader you need to discover when and how to maximize each type of thinking.
- Analytical Thinking is the ability to objectively analyze a situation by gathering information from various sources, and then evaluating the implications of any course of action.
- Big Picture Thinking consists of the ability to find connections & patterns between abstract ideas and then piece them together to form a complete picture.
- Creative thinking involves generating new ideas or new ways of approaching things to create possibilities and opportunities. This is the ability to create original ideas or advance existing ones in a new way.
- Intuitive thinking is the ability to take what you may sense or perceive to be true and, without knowledge or evidence, appropriately factor it in to the final decision.
- Implementation thinking is the ability to organize ideas and plans in a way that they will be effectively carried out. This type of thinking enables you to execute your ideas.
Developing these types of thinking is more art than science. The more you practice thinking the better you’ll become at it. Here is the process I use to develop my ability to think strategically:
- Intentionally carve out time in my day to think.
- Gather all the necessary information on the subject I need to strategically think about.
- Look for connections and patterns so I can see the big picture.
- Find new ways of approaching the topic based on the connections & patterns I discover.
- Take a step back from what I’ve discovered in the process thus far and try to determine what my gut is telling me.
- Stop thinking and start doing by designing a plan for executing my ideas.
As a leader, how to you think strategically?