- Gallup Theme Thursday Webcast Series
- Season 4, Strategic
- Gain insight into the CliftonStrengths talent theme of Strategic: how to invest in it, if it's one of your dominant talents, and how to develop it in others.
In this Theme Thursday Season 4 webcast, Jim Collison, Gallup's Director of Talent Sourcing, and Maika Leibbrandt, Senior Workplace Consultant, talk about Strategic.
The Strategic Thinking theme of Strategic describes more than just having a plan. People especially talented in this theme consider the world through a series of contingencies, contemplating quickly and constantly about the "what if" scenarios of a day, an event, an interaction, or a lifetime.
If Strategic is a dominant talent of yours, you bring a unique talent to your team. You can help them navigate ambiguity by spotlighting the end goal. You can define creative and flexible ways to proceed despite hurdles. You're naturally looking around the corner, asking "what's next?" and "How does that inform what we do first?" When you're at your best, you're not just looking around that corner, but shining a torch so that others can see and understand. Trust your instincts. Often your discarding of options that won't work in favor of those that will happens so quickly that not even you can notice it.
Expand your plans one step further. Do you know what you're attacking today? Stretch to tomorrow. Do you have a plan for this month? Consider next month. Find ways to get your thoughts outside of your own head. Spend time with thought partners, or giant white boards that help you sort through options on purpose. Tackle goals that have yet to be formed. Look for opportunities where the "what" is already identified, and you can fill in the "how/when/who."
The environment that best supports your Strategic talent might be one that involves collaborative tactical brainstorms, partners who can execute with you or for you, or time to run ideas through your own best plan. You're rarely going to take direction and move forward immediately. It's likely that for you to do anything, you first have to run it through your own blueprint machine. You will discard pathways that don't lead you where you're going quickly, so you don't need a ton of time, but you do need permission to feel like what you're doing feels like your own take on the best way to proceed.
If you have high Strategic, worry less about loving the details or even noticing every step along the way. Strategic is more about the transitions between stages than the deep dive into every milestone. In practice, this looks like keeping your plans bigger, more high-level. If, for example, you're leading a CliftonStrengths retreat, focus your magic on the flow of the whole day. We'll start with breakfast, transition to a reflection activity, have time for networking or building relationships, do some physical activity, and close with a lecture. Don't use all your Strategic power on what will be served for breakfast, for example. You can do the more detailed things, but pay careful attention to when they start to drain you more than inspire you. This is likely a clue that you've worked too far into the details.
Working with someone exceptionally talented in the Strategic theme? Expect that there may always be something more than what you're seeing. Their actions are like beads on a necklace-tied to previous actions and next ideas. Expect strong factor recognition. They're able to see the pieces of the game board, zoom out, and visualize the entire plan. This might mean they're asking questions that seem irrelevant, but there's likely a reason why they're curious about what they're noticing.
Celebrate someone with high Strategic by recognizing not just the end result, but how a plan came together. Who did they inspire and involve? How did they help folks see the end goal? What did they expertly delegate? Name a theme or a pattern that describes their contribution. They love patterns and collections-a commonality with a name-so taking the time to title what they constantly offer will mean you're celebrating them in their own language.
To stretch or develop someone with dominant Strategic talents, help them individualize the way they share their decisions with other team members. Who wants to know the end goal? Who needs a bit more of a peek behind the scenes? How can your Strategic share the right information with the right people? (This is a stretch in many cases, because you're describing naming a gut instinct about decisions, which often can be challenging even without an audience.)
Be a great partner by trusting their speed of design. Thought is their currency, and they might get frustrated when they have to spend too much of it on issues they consider inconsequential to the end goal. If this concerns you, ask them to address your issue specifically, ask for context-for the bigger picture they are seeing. And be willing to trust their bigger picture realization as a pathway that might offer you a solution or alternative.
Strategic as the playwright: Help them cast you according to your dominant talents. If you're great at making things happen, let them know you're an executing partner. Within their bigger plan, listen for opportunities to take action. If you're a strong influencer, offer yourself as a specialist in spreading the word or winning over the audience. Listen for opportunities to share their ideas with others.
If Strategic is one of your Dominant Themes, invest in it this week through the following challenge items:
- Turn pattern-spotting on your own action. What have you noticed yourself saying "I should do that" at least 3 times this week? Make a plan to start tackling it today.
- What's the theme? Name a current goal based on what will be different when you accomplish it -- for example, not just "Complete 5 coaching sessions," but "Increased confidence as a coach."
- Invest in a planning support system. Might be an app, a weekly menu magnet, a desktop planner. Schedule some quiet time this week for yourself to get your plans in order.
If Strategic is not one of your Dominant Themes, invest in it this week through the following challenge items:
Low Strategic doesn't mean you don't think or plan. It just means you don't anticipate as often, as creatively, or as intuitively.
- "Shark tank." Next time you have a big decision to make, try out at least 3 options before deciding which way to proceed.
- Name your strongest "considering" talents. Dedicate 1 hour this week to feeding them!