Strategic thinking is regarded as an essential core competency for leadership positions. In fact, many organizations already use this competency, among others, to appraise and evaluate the performance of their executives and leaders. Thus, a competency gap in strategic thinking is considered serious, and organizations will attempt to eliminate this gap. This brief article explores the most effective means to develop strategic thinkers.
Let us begin by listing some of the skills, knowledge, and attitudes that are attributed to this competency.
Are systems-oriented, that is they think holistically and use the helicopter view.
Embrace creativity, innovation, intuition, and understand the insight process (Eureka and aha!)
Think futuristically and embrace visionary thinking
Act like organizational radars (or antennae) scanning the internal and external environments
Have a worldly mindset
Act as explorers, with heighted curiosity and alertness
Have the ability to keep an open mind to new ideas, and adapt to changing environments
Have the desire and guts to outwit, beat, and out-run competition
Are knowledgeable of their industry and experts in their areas of specialization
Know their finance and risk management
Have a bit of entrepreneurial spirit
Are good communicators (good at asking probing questions and listening)
Know how to inspire and lead teams.
Clearly, the type, weight, and relevance of these competency components vary greatly across industries and organizations. For example, General Electric (GE) has selected five competencies (which GE calls growth traits) to identify areas for development among their top people. The five GE growth traits are:
Imagination (viewed as an ...
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...occur over 10 years or more". Goldman 's research revealed ten experiences that contributed to the development of strategic thinking: Family upbringing/education; general work experiences; becoming a CEO; being mentored; being challenged by a key colleague; monitoring results/benchmarking; doing strategic planning; spearheading a major growth initiative; dealing with a threat to organizational survival; and vicarious experiences.
To further improve strategic thinking, Goldman makes four recommendations:
* Include strategic thinking as a formal component of management development programs;
* Require executives to develop the strategic thinking of their subordinates;
* Encourage early participation in strategic planning and benchmarking activities;
* Support activities that incorporate experiential learning; and maximize the benefits of strategic planning sessions.
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