Putting together an application for a non-executive director role recently, I was asked to demonstrate examples of when I’d used “strategic thinking”. I do love a personality test and have done quite a number over the years. In determining what might be next for me career-wise, I reviewed all my results for strengths, weakness and generally what makes me tick. In every case, “strategic” came up as a trait in some way. Having said that, I wasn’t really sure what was meant by strategic thinking or how exactly to demonstrate it, so turned to googling.
Having read some examples, I realised that strategic thinking is definitely one of my strengths, it is just so ingrained in my personality that I often don’t realise I’m doing it. I get complimented on being able to see solutions that others have not spotted. I readily anticipate how actions taken now will have knock-on effects in the future and quickly recognise the benefits and risks of most situations.
I think my favourite description of a trait from the personality profiling was “connects out of thin air”. Whilst these tests tell me, quite rightly, that I don’t conjure brand new ideas out of thin air (I am in awe of people who have this type of creative ability), I am very good at taking in a lot of detail of component parts and bringing them all together into a bigger picture, creating solutions by connecting what is already there: something that could be labelled strategic thinking.
We all have different personality types and therefore strengths that come naturally. This is absolutely essential for teams to function effectively. Successful teams are often those made up of people with diverse skills, knowledge and perspectives.
Often it’s talents that don’t come naturally and we have to work on that are easier to shout about, because we’ve spent time and effort developing those skills. We’re rightly proud to be able to do something that we didn’t used to be able to do. It’s equally important to remind ourselves of those things we’re good at that come easily, that you probably do every day so they may not seem remarkable. Remember to others who find them elusive, they will be exactly that – a remarkable and valuable strength.