Do you consider what’s going on around you — in your unit, company, industry, and wider business environment? Do you look for opportunities that might give your organization better results in the future? Your answers can help you to find out if you have the skills and traits of a strategic thinker.
Suppose you work at a financial institution that’s trying to increase its revenue margins so that it can open a new office. A senior manager suggests cutting overtime to reduce operational costs. But you know that if you cut overtime, you’ll be understaffed at peak business times.
In the long-run, this could weaken service quality, creating a poorer customer experience. Instead, you propose introducing a new banking product for small businesses. Not only would this increase your bank’s offerings, but it could actually attract a lot of new clients, boosting sales and your revenue margin.
In this scenario, you’re demonstrating one of the key traits of strategic thinkers: future focus. You can see how decisions made in the present might play out in the future. In this case, you know that cutting costs might actually steer the bank away from its long-term goal of increasing revenue margins if it weakens service quality and loses customers.
Another common trait of strategic thinkers is openness — the ability to welcome feedback and opinions, even if they’re contrary to their own. Looking for a second opinion helps you get a different perspective.
When faced with criticism or doubts, strategic thinkers have a positive outlook. They consider the possible negative perceptions, but remain confident that they can overcome them.
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