Strategic thinking skills can pave the way for new careers pathways

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Hiring managers are prioritising applicants who can demonstrate their upskilling efforts.

By U2B Staff 

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Strategic thinking skills are critical to your career development and advancement, in addition to business success. But what exactly is strategic thinking and why is it a highly valued skill?

Professor David J. Collis of Harvard Business School, describes strategic thinking as “analysing opportunities and problems from a broad perspective and understanding the potential impact your actions might have on others.’” 

Many roles require strategic thinking skills, be it in marketing, management roles to consulting.

It’s importance in the workplace cannot be disputed — for instance, a Harvard Business Review study found that 97% of the 10,000 senior executives asked chose strategy as the most critical leadership behaviour to their organisations’ future success. 

On Forbes, leadership expert Paloma Cantero-Gomez said strategic thinkers are able to imagine the big picture, identify the possible impact of their decisions and project the way to get there. 

Recruitment agency Robert Half notes that candidates that possess strategic thinking skills will be seen as top talent, and it’s a quality that makes many managers, directors and executives as successful leaders. 

Meanwhile, Nelson Strategic Consulting notes that to be a great strategic thinker, one needs to have exceptional analytical and creative thinking skills, and to be able to look at current and past realities through a set of different eyes and pick out patterns that may not have been seen before, and apply this learning to decisions about possible and plausible future scenarios. 


Developing a strategic mindset 

edX notes that numerous factors assist in your ability to think strategically, including critical thinking and problem solving skills, the creativity to think “outside the box” and the analytical skills to assess and incorporate data into your decision making.

But if these skills don’t come naturally to you, there are many ways to cultivate strategic thinking skills, be it via executive education to online learning. 

Chicago Booth, for instance, offers a strategic thinking executive education programme that helps candidates learn critical concepts and frameworks that will help them and their companies anticipate these changes and have the strategic agility to effectively respond through making the necessary changes in their strategies.

Students can expect to learn several things, including how to assess the alignment of their current strategy and current and future market conditions; develop the ability to separate the type of value (or outcomes) they provide to their customers, to name a few. 

edX offers several related courses, including a Professional Certificate in Strategic Management which teaches candidates how to identify and define the competitive advantages of your business, how to refine your strategy to maximise your competitive advantage and drive profits, in addition to achieving a sustainable competitive advantage in today’s business environment, among other skills.

Their Practical Thinking Skills exposes students to numerous case studies, mastering positive values and practical thinking skills in addition to studying a bundle of effective problem-solving skills and decision-making strategies.

Without a doubt, strategic thinking skills are incredibly useful for employees’ career development, in addition to helping businesses to succeed.  

Being equipped with these skills can help you in your personal and professional capacity, and potentially help you move into roles such as corporate strategy or strategic planning if you wish to pivot your career, making it a useful area to upskill in.