How to Cultivate Strategic Thinking Leaders

Leadership is a combination of inherited and acquired characteristics. Even if your genes didn’t make you a ‘natural’ leader you can certainly learn a lot about leadership if you’re called upon to lead.

Natural leaders stand out – they’re easy to identify. Identifying those that have the potential to become leaders is a much harder process but it’s what every business owner has to do when looking for team members to promote into supervisory or management positions.

It is important to recognize the natural leaders in your company as well as those who could become great company leaders if they had a little training. People naturally follow someone. This is evident through many things in life from the stock market to fashion. You want to make sure your employees are following the right people. Make sure you don’t focus so much on the appearance of leadership that you miss the true leaders in your company. These are some qualities to look for in finding a good leader. Remember that every company and situation may be different, but the following qualities are generally adaptable to many situations.

Strategic thinkers question the status quo. They challenge their own and others’ assumptions and encourage divergent points of view. Only after careful reflection and examination of a problem through many lenses do they take decisive action. This requires patience, courage, and an open mind.

4 Keys to promote a culture of strategic thinking are:

1. Allocate mentors – Mentors should be assigned to each new employee during on-boarding. Mentors help with training, accountability and growing within the position. Existing employees can be paired with colleagues who have more experience. Every manager should have a mentor at the executive level. The goal of every mentor is to help mentees at all levels grow in their respective positions.
2. Encourage solutions – When problems arise, encourage managers and team members to devise a long-term solution, rather than merely reacting to the immediate problem.
3. Inspire forward thinking – Encourage team members to consider how a proposed solution to any given problem serves the organization’s goals and how it will impact those goals.
4. When everyone in the organization is aware of current market and industry trends, customers, competitors and goals, it promotes unity. A unified organization is one in which everyone works together toward common goals.

Nurturing a culture of strategic thinkers takes advantage of the shared education and experience of everyone in your organization. It also helps bring natural leaders to the forefront, whose skills can then be utilized to a greater extent within the organization.

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