12Strategic Thinking

When we train executives across a wide range of industries and countries, we often ask one of our favorite questions: “If you had a magic wand and could equip managers at your company with any skills, which skill would it be?” We hear one answer in reply more than any other. Based on the title of this chapter, we bet you've already guessed what it is: strategic thinking.

Similarly, a study of 10,000 senior executives found that they chose strategic thinking as the most important driver of business success 97% of the time, and an assessment of 60,000 managers across over 140 countries revealed that a strategic approach was seen as 1,000% more important to perception of effectiveness than any other behavior (Kabacoff 2014).

Execs are confident that if only the leaders in their companies thought more strategically, their companies would be more successful. But when we ask execs to define strategic thinking, they tend to get stumped. Strategic thinking has the dubious distinction of being one of the most in-demand and one of the most difficult-to-describe leadership skills. It is also an important tipping point skill that unlocks better decision-making, problem-solving, planning, project management, influence, communication, and innovation skills. So, it's time to unveil the mystery. Throughout this chapter, we'll help you and your team develop strategic thinking skills faster to make more impact in less time (and become the stuff that executives dream of). ...

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