strategic thinker, woman creating a strategic plan on a board

How to Be Viewed as a Strategic Thinker

Are you a strategic thinker or a tactical thinker? What is the difference? A professional focused on tactics often zeros in on ways to cut costs and improve the bottom line while a strategic thinker is focused on generating sales and growing the business.

Which are you? More importantly – which do others see you as?

One way to learn about how to best position yourself within the company or on your resume/LinkedIn profile is to read up on what recruiters are focused upon.

In a recent article entitled Need More Strategic Thinkers by Dr. John Sullivan, you will learn an enormous amount about how your words and action can label you as strategic or not.

For example, in your resume, Dr. Sullivan states that executives seeking strategic thinkers should look for the following words in a LI profile or resume

“Those “strategic indicator” words and phrases can include: strategic goals, multiyear, cross-functional, providing a competitive advantage, and increasing profitability and margins. Additional phrases to look for include: more than 1 percent impact on corporate revenue, interdependencies, a global approach, shareholder’s perspective, an industry inflection point, connecting the dots, VUCA, prioritization, predictive analytics and data-driven decisions. Individuals that use words/phrases like integrated, strategic partner, think like an owner, failure/root cause analysis, or those who routinely quantify their results in dollars or revenue impacts are also highly likely to be strategic.”

Let’s separate out some of those words for a more concentrated understanding:

  • strategic goals
  • cross-functional
  • providing a competitive advantage
  • inter-dependencies
  • a global approach
  • shareholder’s perspective
  • connecting the dots
  • prioritization
  • predictive analytics

All men can see these tactics whereby I conquer, but what none can see is the strategy out of which victory is evolved. Sun Tzu

Notice the elevated view of an organization that is communicated with these words. While working in the weeds on specific tactics may be part of your job and you may be proud (and well should be) of specific tactical successes, if you are also a person who can see how all of the pieces work together for the whole organization; make sure that understanding is clear on your resume.

In the interview process, Dr. Sullivan goes on to suggest that hiring managers/recruiters use a storytelling approach to identify those that are strategic thinkers with this exercise:

Give them a real problem that require strategic steps — the most effective approach by far is to give candidates who you suspect to be strategic thinkers a real problem to solve during the interview. Either give them a real unsolved problem or give them a strategic problem that you have already solved. Examples of the steps that indicate that your interviewee is a strategic thinker: Essential strategic steps that should be in an excellent answer include: checking with the strategic plan, reviewing company/industry multiyear forecasts, looking for inflection points, identifying and tracking key industry/economic environmental factors, and identifying and then consulting with key stakeholders across departments and business units.

In the boardroom or team meetings, offer suggestions that showcase your strategic thinking. If you want to be known as a strategic thinker keep in mind the words, phrases and attitudes that will communicate that as part of your personal brand.

JJ DiGeronimo JJ DiGeronimo, a speaker, author and thought-leader for Women in Tech and Girls and STEM, empowers professional women and consults with senior executives on strategies to retain and attract Women in Technology to increase thought and leadership diversity within organizations.

Check out JJ’s new award winning book Accelerate Your Impact by downloading three free chapters.accelerate your impact