3 Strategic Thinking Behaviors to Better See the Big Picture

3 Strategic Thinking Behaviors to Better See the Big Picture
Facebook Twitter Email LinkedIn

Strategic Thinking Behaviors

Over and over we hear leaders asking their teams to develop and use strategic thinking behaviors to better “see the big picture” as they strive to create more strategic clarity to grow faster and get important work done.  But many workers report struggling to find time to just think — much less to think strategically.

And the higher you go in an organization, the less leaders feel like they have the time to devote to thinking strategically about the big picture.  This is a mistake.

Executives cannot afford to work the same way that they did when they were at a lower level because their scope, responsibilities, and expectations have completely changed.

What is the Big Picture?
But what really does the big picture mean and what do you need to do to “see” it?  Strategic thinking behaviors related to the “big picture:”

  • Involve lateral thinking
  • Relate to the entire perspective of an issue or situation
  • Are broad like the wide screen picture above, not narrow
  • Are comprehensive and overarching, not focused on irrelevant details
  • Include the most important facts about a matter and the systemic implications to other things
  • Look at the whole, not just the parts

Leaders and the Big Picture
Organizations count on company executives to run effective strategy retreats, take a big picture view, and use strategic thinking behaviors to lead for growth and innovation.  Because leaders must operate at a higher level, executives are often better positioned to see things that are more applicable to the entire company rather than to a specific functional area or project.

Executive leaders are typically the ones who have the responsibility for making plans for the whole organization, and, therefore, tend to focus on the overall direction rather than the step-by-step tactics designed to get them where they want to go.

Three Strategic Thinking Behaviors to Better See the Big Picture
If you aspire to create strategic clarity and, in so doing, move on up in your organization, here are three strategic thinking behaviors based on data from our leadership action learning workshops that you need to develop:

  1. Look Beyond the Day-to-Day Decisions
    Most of us make multiple decisions every day. Some have big consequences; others have small implications.

    Big picture thinkers automatically consider the wide-ranging consequences of each decision they make.  Top performers from our leadership simulation assessment understand that they don’t operate in a vacuum and that one move leads to another.

    If you want to improve your strategic thinking behaviors, look beyond your immediate leadership decisions to the effect they will have on others and into the future.

  2. Learn More About What’s Happening Both In and Beyond Your Own Company
    Strategic thinkers tune into what other companies in their marketplace are doing and track trends that might affect their business.

    To improve your strategic thinking behaviors, know what’s going on in your industry, what customers are saying about what they want and need, what adjustments might make sense in your business to stay ahead of the competition.

    This means educating yourself about your own company’s situation by reading the annual report, knowing which products and services are in development, and understanding what the KPI’s really mean.

  3. Be Thoroughly Versed On Your Organization’s Strategy and Culture
    Understand where your company is headed, why your company exists,  and what shapes your company culture.

    Learn the company’s:
    —  Strategic vision for success
    —  Mission statement
    —  Corporate values
    —  Unique value proposition
    —  Ideal target client
    —  Strategic priorities

    When you have a clear line of sight of how you and your team directly contribute to the overall picture, it is far easier to prioritize your actions in a way that promotes the company strategy and aligns with how success is measured and work gets done.

The Bottom Line
To be more strategic in your approach and improve your strategic thinking behaviors, step back from the busyness of each day, and give yourself some time to reflect on lessons from the past — what is currently happening and, most important, how you envision the future.

To learn more about strategic thinking behaviors, download How to Stress Test Your Level of Strategic Clarity

Evaluate your Performance


Get key strategy, culture, and talent tools from industry experts that work


Health Checks

Assess how you stack up against leading organizations in areas matter most



Download published articles from experts to stay ahead of the competition



Review proven research-backed approaches to get aligned



Stay up to do date on the latest best practices that drive higher performance


Client Case Studies

Explore real world results for clients like you striving to create higher performance