Improve Your Strategic Thinking

Ask The Expert

By Barbara Mitchell

Q: My manager wants me to be more of a strategic thinker. How can I develop my skills in that area?

A: It’s a good sign that your manager sees potential in you beyond your current role. And it’s great that you’re eager to develop your skills in the area your manager has identified.

Strategic thinking involves envisioning things that might happen down the road and applying those thoughts to the current situation. People who think strategically are able to create connections between people, plans, and ideas that others might not see.

The trouble is that strategic thinking requires getting out of the weeds and thinking bigger, and most of us are overwhelmed simply keeping up with our day-to-day activities. If you’re serious about becoming more of a strategic thinker, you may need to slow your pace from time to time so that your mind is free to turn things over. Some people schedule time on their calendar just to think. This may sound strange, but it’s a matter of habit and practice. Try it: Schedule your thinking for whatever time works for you, but it’s important to make it a regular time so that you keep to it.

Some people schedule time on their calendar just to think. This may sound strange, but it’s a matter of habit and practice.

Curiosity and strategic thinking are closely related. The more experiences and ideas we take in, the more our brains have to work with to make the connections that drive strategic thinking.

As you begin to think more strategically, find others in your work group or in your life with whom you can discuss your ideas. This process will help you to get comfortable expressing your new ideas, and it will generate input from others that may inspire you in ways you might not have seen on your own.


Barbara Mitchell is a human resources and management consultant and author of The Big Book of HR and The Essential Workplace Conflict Handbook. Do you have a question you’d like her to answer in “Ask the Expert”? Send it to [email protected].
Career Development