“Strategic thinking is defined as the individual’s capacity for thinking – conceptually, imaginatively, systematically, and opportunistically – with regard to the attainment of success in the future.”
If there is one thing I have learned as an entrepreneur and business owner, it is the need for strategic thinking and action when dealing with people. We all have a plethora of experiences built up creating perceptions, beliefs, and how we take in what happens around us, as well as, what people bring to us. Interpretation is determined by this cache of information collected over years of interacting, receiving and digesting.
The less weight we carry of this collection, the better our communication and ability to navigate through both difficult and congruent interactions with others.
Strategic thinking and action bring about insights that can be meaningful, relevant and engaging. By changing the way we view things and respond to our experiences, we can improve the outcome looking towards the future with an appreciation of how current decisions impact the future.
It takes personal development and skill for strategic thinking and action to be effective in leadership. I have discovered some key elements in the way we think and handle experiences for the best outcome.
Don’t Take Things Personally – Understanding that what comes to you from another person is not always an intentional attack. Sometimes they may be having a bad day, other times they could be very stressed. If their behavior is a chronic issue, then it could be a deeper core challenge they have not resolved within themselves. This becomes reflective outwardly, you become the target.
Suggested Action – Practice active listening (as an observer), and pinpoint the key areas the other person is trying to convey. Speak less, listen more through active listening with boundaries. If you feel attacked, let this feeling roll off you and just be present with the other person. Stay calm as best you can, giving them the sense of being heard. One-on-one conversation can be beneficial to get to the core issue and resolve whatever is causing the negative behavior.
Where Are Your Boundaries? – When we have strong boundaries, others will know what to bring and what not to bring to us in the form of communication, actions, and words. Your own confidence in leadership skills can be expressed in how you handle your daily tasks. The strength of your leadership can be felt, even if not spoken. There are people who will take advantage of any weakness in boundaries and run like the wind, crushing you in their grip.
Suggested Action – Know where you may be weak in setting limitations on how far someone can go in their behaviors and actions with you. Practice with a trusted colleague in various responses to what does not work for you in what others bring to your experience. Role play until you feel confident and comfortable. Then use your new strength with others. What you will discover is they will begin to respect you, wanting to interact with you more and in return, you will feel more empowered to find ways to enhance your experiences with them and all those you lead on a daily basis.
How Clear Are You in Your Communication? – Although we may believe our communication skills are great and effective; there is always room for improvement. No matter how long you have been in business/leadership, the capacity to raise your level of awareness is infinite. Clarity in communication helps to diffuse confusion and any manipulation attempted by others. Through strategically thinking and communicating your intentions, you can be in control, without controlling, your experiences at all times. (This is not to say there won’t be polarity and situations that will test you. Another article for discussion)
Suggested Action – Recognize when others are attempting to manipulate and control a conversation or experience. Make a note of what feelings come up for you…. anger, frustration, irritation, etc. There is more behind this emotion that you may want to explore. The other person is not causing this, rather, you have a trigger that is creating the emotional reaction. When you can communication without expressing the emotion, and deflect the manipulation in the direction you wish things to go, (positive influence) then you have achieved strategic thinking and action! Again, this is tied to observing, listening, responding and re-directing.
As with all things in life, practice is useful in achieving results. I share this information with you today because I know from experience, personal and leadership development is rewarding for both myself and those I have the pleasure of working with.
I learn from others how to be a better person and business owner. They teach me how to strengthen my boundaries, what I will allow into my experience, what is important to me and my own success. Strategic thinking is a valuable tool and strategic action is useful for overall growth and transformation in many areas of life.
By taking into account your past experiences, what is happening in the present, and a vision of the future, you can tap into strategic foresight by implementing the suggestions in this article. Insights about yourself, others and your level of awareness may increase as a result of purposeful strategic thinking and action.