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Develop Strategic Thinkers Throughout Your Organization
Multiple studies have shown that strategic thinkers are often the most effective leaders. The question then becomes: Is there a way to encourage routine strategic thinking throughout an organization? Last year, the Management Research Group (MRG) completed a global study that addressed this question. In evaluating the leadership practices and effectiveness of 60,000 managers and executives in more than 140 countries and 26 industries, MRG determined that a strategic approach to leadership was, on average, 10 times more important to the perception of effectiveness than other behaviors studied. Furthermore, it was twice as important as communication (the second most important behavior) and nearly 50 times more important than hands-on tactical behaviors.

Strategic leaders tend to take a broad, long-range approach to decision-making and problem-solving that involves objective analysis, forward thinking and meticulous planning. That means being able to think in multiple time frames, identifying what has to happen now, in six months, in a year, in three years and so forth. It also means thinking systemically and identifying the impact of their decisions on various segments of the organization. In MRG's survey, those leaders who scored the highest on those skills were six times more likely to be seen as effective and four times more likely to be seen as individuals with significant future potential within their organizations.

The article's author lists a number of ways a leader can foster strategic thinking as part of his/her management approach. One, encourage managers to set a regular time aside for strategic planning. Two, provide information to your leaders on the market, the industry, competitors, and new technologies that influence your business. Three, keep people informed on what is happening internally. Effective strategy requires information shared across boundaries. Four, communicate a well-articulated philosophy, mission and goal statement throughout the organization. Five, reward people for evidence of thinking, not just reacting. Whenever possible, organizational culture should discourage crisis management and encourage anticipating opportunities and avoiding problems. Finally, promote a future perspective for staffers by incorporating it into training and development programs.
Harvard Business Review (02/14) Kabacoff, Robert
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