The ability to come up with an effective and comprehensive high level plan or approach to accomplish a vision or purpose.


There are a lot more people who can take an action then people who know what action would be best to take. Part of every leader's job is to be strategic. The more leadership responsibility you have, the more critical is the requirement to think, plan and act strategically.

For by wise counsel you will wage your own war, and in a multitude of counselors there is safety.Proverbs 24:6

Skilled Characteristics

  • Envisions

    Sees the future clearly

  • Anticipates

    Can anticipate future consequences and trends accurately

  • Broad

    Has broad knowledge and perspectives

  • Articulates

    Can paint a clear picture and vision of future possibilities

  • Creative

    Can create competitive and breakthrough strategies and plans

“There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.”

– Peter Drucker

Unskilled Characteristics

  • Doer

    Doesn’t think or talk strategy

  • Weak Planning

    Can’t put together a compelling strategic plan

  • Tactical

    More comfortable focusing on tasks related to today rather than thinking about the needs of the future

  • Perspective

    Lacks the perspective to pull together varying elements into a coherent strategic view

  • Not a Painter

    Can’t weave or paint a clear vision of the future for others

  • Rejects

    May reject the usefulness of strategy, considering it a waste of time

  • Narrow

    May have narrow experience and not be knowledgeable about other areas of work or of different contexts and cultures

  • Over Simplifies

    May try to simplify too much or be very tactical (short-term focused)

  • Lacks Discipline

    May lack the disciplined thought processes necessary to construct a strategic view

“It’s not enough to be busy, so are the ants. The question is, ‘What are we busy about?'”

– Henry David Thoreau

Causes of Weakness

  • Simple

    Doesn’t like complexity

  • Beliefs

    Doesn’t think the future is knowable, so why try to strategize and control it

  • Inexperienced

    Does not have experience or education in how to think strategically

  • Discomfort

    Is not comfortable speculating or guessing about the future

  • Perspective

    Lacks a wide perspective of the situation to see the bigger picture

  • Risk Averse

    Low risk taker; doesn’t like uncertainty

  • Busy

    Too busy with today’s tasks to take the time to sit down to think and strategize

  • Tactical

    Prefers to focus on short-term tasks to complete rather than thinking long-term

“If you have too many rear view mirrors, it will be difficult to see the road ahead.”

– Jeroen De Flander


Review the simple application steps below and choose 1 or 2 things you can do to spur yourself on to further growth.

  • Reject Strategy?

    REJECT STRATEGY? While it’s true that most strategic plans never work out as planned, that doesn’t mean that it was a wasted effort. Strategic plans lead to choices about resources and the best use of people. They lead to different staffing actions and different financial plans. Without some strategic plans, moving forward would be a total shot in the dark. Most failed companies or ministries got buried strategically, not tactically.

  • Not Interested?

    NOT INTERESTED? Many leaders are so wrapped up in today’s problems that they aren’t curious about tomorrow. They really don’t care about the long-term future. They believe there won’t be much of a future until we perform today. Being a visionary and a good strategist requires curiosity and imagination. It requires asking a creative variety of ‘what if’ questions. Nobody knows all the answers, but good strategists contiuously ask good questions. Without asking these strategic questions in advance, you risk the constant change happening in the world to outpace your ability to respond to it.

  • Narrow Perspective?

    NARROW PERSPECTIVE? Some people are very focused on a specific thing they do and they do it very well. They have prepared themselves for a narrow but satisfying career. Then someone tells them their job has changed, and they now have to be strategic. Being strategic requires a broad perspective. In addition to knowing one thing well, it requires that you know about a lot of things somewhat. As a leader, you need to determine what all you need to have a general understanding of and figure out how that relates to your strategy.

  • Too Busy?

    TOO BUSY? Solving today’s problems takes a lot of time. But you also have to make time for strategy. A good strategy releases future time because it makes choices clear and leads to less wasted effort, but it takes time to do. Delegation is usually the main key. Give away as much tactical day-to-day stuff as you can. Ask your people what they think they could do to give you more time for strategic reflection. Another key is better time management. Put an hour a week on your calendar for strategic reading and reflection throughout the year. Keep a log of ideas you get from others, magazines, etc. Focus on how these impact your team and/or strategy.

  • Afraid of Speculating?

    AFRAID OF SPECULATING? Strategic planning is the most uncertain thing leaders do. It requires making many assumptions about the unknown. Many conflict avoiders and perfectionists don’t like to make statements in public that they cannot back up with facts. Remember that most strategies can be challenged and questioned. There are no clean ways to win a debate over strategy. It really comes down to one subjective estimate versus another. And that’s OK.

  • How to be Strategic

    DON’T KNOW HOW TO BE STRATEGIC? Scan the Harvard Business Review and Sloan Review regularly. Read the three to five strategic case studies in Business Week every issue. Ask someone from your organization who is a good strategist to mentor you in strategy. Watch CEO’s talk about their businesses on TV. Volunteer to serve on a task force on a strategic issue. Look for training courses and workshops being offered that relate to strategic planning or thinking.

  • Need More Help?

    NEED MORE HELP? Invite a strong strategic thinker outside of your team to hold a 2-3 day strategic planning event for you and your leadership team every 2 to 3 years. Spend time reviewing your team’s strengths, weaknessees, opportunities and threats, assess the current context, needs and trends related to your target audience group, and determine how you want to adjust your strategy for the next 2-3 years.