Five Dimensions of a Strategic Mindset Every Leader Can Strengthen

By: Jonathan Dapra
Mar 24, 2023

In our previous post, we compared strategic decisions (big, consequential, upending, directive) to day-to-day operational or business decisions. But we quickly pointed out that strategic thinking (a comprehensive, integrative view of today, tomorrow, and the next decade) was a capability the most successful businesspeople demonstrate each day.  So, what does an effective strategic thinker look like?

The science and art of strategy require leaders in any size company to develop a strategic mindset. From our perspective, mindsets are simply behavior—how you use your skills, abilities, and knowledge to succeed in different settings. Mindsets filter how we make sense of the world and ourselves. According to Carol Dweck in Mindset, The New Psychology of Success: How we can learn to fulfill our potential, “mindsets impact our choices and decisions.”

The components of a mindset are things you can learn or build proficiency in. We emphasize this because the most important thing budding strategists must understand is that everyone can build a strategic mindset. Once you develop the capability, you can continually strengthen those underlying skills, abilities, and knowledge. 

What is a strategic mindset?

It’s the ability to mentally navigate an ambiguous future, effectively problem-solve, embrace change to be innovative, and make effective decisions. Five capabilities are essential to demonstrate a strategic mindset:

  1. Foresight: Thinking about an uncertain future, anticipating problems, and pivoting to address challenges or quickly overcoming obstacles.
  2. Being Inquisitive: Asking purposeful questions meant to target a problem. Also, being unafraid to break the mold and challenge convention in your thinking about the challenge.
  3. Agility: Demonstrating the ability to balance your understanding of current plans while continually assessing new options; and being comfortable pivoting to address opportunities or challenges.
  4. Comfort with abstraction: Showing ease working with unclear information—using inferential knowledge to gain unique perspectives and ideas. Think of it as connecting the dots and seeing patterns where others see nothing but chaos.
  5. Focusing on relevant information. Considering past, present, and future business performance in relation to short-term, mid-term, and long-term goals. Avoiding the tendency to follow anecdotal red herrings that seldom provide you with valid insights.

 

Every businessperson can develop their strategic mindset by understanding the behaviors and knowledge that lead to highly-effective, strategic decisions. Once you know what it takes to build a great strategy, you can look in the proverbial mirror and self-assess your strengths across the varied dimensions of strategic thinking. Then, it’s up to you. As we always say—the slightest improvement in your capabilities will move the mean of your leadership…and you will achieve exponential results.

This post is the second as part of a two-part series on strategic thinking.

Jonathan Dapra is a co-founder of Alaric, and its Chief Innovation Officer. He is a leadership assessment and development practitioner with over 20 years’ experience as an executive, entrepreneur, trainer, and educator. He is the co-author of From 50 to 500.
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