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One Does Not Simply BE Strategic

One does not simply BE strategic

This was the name of a made-up award I was given by my team as part of their parting gift to me recently, when I left my full-time corporate job to run my coaching business full-time.

It was part of an inside joke that we shared at that time. Strategic HR is what this team did. Marrying people and culture strategies with business strategic objectives was at the core of what we did for our clients every day. 

But this phrase got me thinking. How does one actually become more strategic? How can a leader level up their strategic thinking skills? 

Here are my top 3 ways: 

1. Learn broadly. 

Get curious and read, listen or watch about a wide range of topics and ideas. It prompts your brain to recognize patterns and parallels that you can then apply to in your situation. 

2.  Know your systems. 

Take the time to understand all the systems you’re operating within. Think of your team, division, organization, industry, global as concentric circles, each with it’s own demands, pressures and opportunities. These circles are distinct yet interconnected. 

Think also of the various systems you have internalized in how you lead: core values, family, culture, etc. How do these influence your approaches to work and strategy?

3.  Build in pause. 

Practice carving out time to pause and reflect – these are essential to sharpening your strategic lens. This might look like calendar blocks for 30 minutes at the start or end of the week where you plan ahead for the week to come. 

It might also look like giving yourself permission to pause before responding to an incoming issue so you can consider the best way forward; even a few extra moments can make a huge difference. 

I was able to strengthen my strategic thinking by consistently applying these three practices over the course of my career. If I'm honest, building in time to pause and reflect is the thing I still find to be the hardest to do. But I have noticed a huge difference in my ability to connect the dots and have more impact in my work when I stick to protecting my weekly reflective time.


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