February 2024

LEADER PRACTICE No. 11: Being More Strategic

One of the top five goals my executive clients bring to coaching is the desire to be more strategic and less tactical. Sound familiar? Most of these clients have a pretty good idea what it means to be strategic—yet many of them are second guessing themselves by the time they reach me.

I read an article many years ago that has stayed with me. The article listed and described examples of strategic thinking behaviors: Seeing the Big Picture, Anticipating What Is Coming, What-If Thinking, and Making Trade-offs. When I ask clients if they know how to do these things, they almost universally say yes. What’s more, they often say they are good at strategic behaviors—and enjoy doing them!

So what gets in the way? Well, most of my clients were promoted into their current roles because they are exceptional at “GTD” or getting things done. They have consistently been rewarded for excelling at execution. And let’s be honest, one of the biggest rewards is the addictive adrenaline rush we feel GTD.

Strategic thinking is a different kind of skill. It requires time and space. As leaders, we must be disciplined about blocking (and protecting) time for strategic thinking. Getting there often requires a shift, in mindset and mental energy. That could mean finding a novel “place” for doing strategic thinking, away from your typical workspace. You could get in nature, meditate to change your headspace, or use exercise-induced endorphins to open new vistas. Connecting with certain colleagues can stimulate our thinking, as well. What do you need to be more strategic?


If being more strategic is one of your goals:

  • Notice what gets in the way. Try checking-in with yourself regularly to help you become more aware and support you in shifting your mindset.
  • What will clear your path to more strategic thinking—dedicated time/space, different mindset, location, thinking partners? What else?
  • Experiment!

This Harvard Business Review article “4 Ways To Improve Your Strategic Thinking Skills” reminds us what to know, think, speak and act on to think more strategically.

Until next month…

Dana's signature

Founder and Principal Coach