Develop strategic thinkers throughout your firm

In study after study, strategic thinkers are found to be among the most highly effective leaders. But is there a way to encourage routine strategic thinking throughout an organization?

March 27, 2014 |
Steven Burns

Photo: Chaiwat via FreeDigitalPhotos.net

In study after study, strategic thinkers are found to be among the most highly effective leaders. But is there a way to encourage routine strategic thinking throughout an organization?

In 2013, Management Research Group completed a large-scale global study addressing this question. The study evaluated the leadership practices and effectiveness of 60,000 managers and executives in 140+ countries and 26 industries. 

“We found that a strategic approach to leadership was, on average, 10 times more important to the perception of effectiveness than other behaviors studied,” writes Robert Kabacoff, Ph.D., vice president of research at the firm, in a Harvard Business Review article

It was twice as important as communication (the second most important behavior) and almost 50 times more important than hands-on tactical behaviors. 

“Strategic leaders take a broad, long-range approach to problem-solving and decision-making that involves objective analysis, thinking ahead and planning,” he writes. “That means being able to think in multiple time frames, identifying what they are trying to accomplish over time and what has to happen now, in six months, in a year, in three years, to get there. It also means thinking systemically.”

In the study, the leaders who scored well on those skills were six times more likely to be seen as effective as the leaders who were low on them, independent of any of their other behaviors. They were also four times more likely to be seen as individuals with significant future potential within their organizations.

Here are some ways you can foster strategic thinking as part of your management approach:

• Encourage managers to set a regular time aside for strategic planning (alone and in meeting with others).

• Provide information to your leaders on the market, the industry, customers, competitors and new technologies that influence your business.

• Keep people informed on what is happening internally.

• Connect managers with a mentor.

• Communicate a well-articulated philosophy, mission and goal statement throughout the organization.

• Reward people for evidence of thinking, not just reacting; wherever possible, organizational culture should encourage anticipating opportunities and avoiding problems, and discourage crisis management.

• Promote a future perspective for employees by incorporating it into training and development programs; teach people what strategic thinking is and encourage them to ask “why” and “when” questions. 

Read more from Harvard Business Review.

Editor's note: This is sponsored content. The text was provided by the sponsor company. 

Steven Burns | The Business Behind Design

Steven Burns, FAIA, spent 14 years managing the firm Burns + Beyerl Architects, during that time the firm’s earnings grew at an average rate of 24% per year. After creating ArchiOffice®, the intelligent office, project management and time tracking solution for architectural firms, Steve took his management expertise to BQE Software, where he is refining their business strategy and product development.

Related Blogs

August 25, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

By analyzing the “benchmark firms” selected from its annual surveys, PSMJ has identified several characteri...

Understanding the values and aspirations of millennials

Only 28 percent of millennials believe that their organization is taking full advantage of their skills, research from Deloitte revealed.

August 20, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

A recent LinkedIn workplace survey revealed that millennials (defined as individuals aged 18–24) are quite...

How to improve project planning
August 11, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

A recent research project revealed that more than 75 percent of project owners have no consistent method fo...

According to research by talent management firm Development Dimensions International, 89% of leaders with strong interaction skills have more engaged teams. Photo: Sebastiaan ter Burg/Flickr

July 10, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

Much of what’s written about employee engagement focuses on how leaders can help their employees become mor...

How to earn respect as a leader
June 18, 2015 | The Business Behind Design

Employees will give you minimum effort if the only reason they respect you is for your authority

Is your firm social enough?
June 09, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

The overwhelming majority of A/E/C firms are engaged in social media. But to what end? 

Succession planning starts with developing your leaders

A leadership-succession process should involving mentoring and coaching. Photo: HA0521-021/Flickr.

June 03, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

Two-thirds of U.S. companies still admit that they have no formal succession plan in place, a 2014 survey c...

Why it’s so hard to figure out what to pay top talent
April 03, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

Is your firm’s approach to compensation effective in today’s rapidly changing talent market?

Are face-to-face meetings still important?

It’s particularly important for sensitive communication, when having tone and body language for context makes a difference.

March 17, 2015 | The Business Behind Design

One CEO looks pass convenience and advocates for old school, in-person meetings.

How to give feedback effectively

If initial feedback doesn’t resonate, effective leaders also know how to turn up the pressure in a way that is progressive, but not too sharp.

March 06, 2015 | Building Team | The Business Behind Design

A great feedback-giving leader evaluates the individual

Add new comment

Your Information
Your Comment

Filtered HTML

  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <blockquote> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.

Plain text

  • No HTML tags allowed.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
Refresh Type the characters you see in this picture. Type the characters you see in the picture; if you can't read them, submit the form and a new image will be generated. Not case sensitive.  Switch to audio verification.
Overlay Init