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Communicators that Think Strategically: It’s all about the big picture

Strategic Thinkers notice patterns and trends in information. They see how everything fits together and quickly analyze options for taking action. Every action they take is an integral part of a greater plan with a bigger goal, because they always have the future in mind. For them, words are chosen carefully to express the results they expect. Seeing the cause and effect of every action allows them to easily create contingency plans. They have a high regard for the logical reasoning that accompanies every decision. 

They use symbolic language to cast vision and describe their end game. When laying out their strategies, they start with the end in mind, shaping the big picture and then filling in the gaps with details >> or letting others do that part. When they ask questions it is to satisfy their curiosity, dig deeper to gain more knowledge or play devil’s advocate so they can look at every angle. Everything is under evaluation and they will challenge conclusions looking for ways to improve. They may neglect to celebrate accomplishments because they always see ways to make it better.

Strategic Thinkers are one of four communication styles you find in teams trying to work together. In this series of blogs we are focusing one blog post on each style: Problem Solvers, Bridge Builders, Strategic Thinkers and Compassionate Connectors. Let’s explore a few ways communication plays out for a Strategic Thinker when they are on a team! 

Strategic Thinkers on Your Team

Meetings

Their best meetings are focused on the big picture and setting strategy to achieve big goals. As Strategic Thinkers sort through the facts they weave them together to move toward the future they see. To work well with a Strategic Thinker: Ask questions to draw out their thinking. Focus on results and what any given action will achieve. Offer the logical reasons behind proposals. Give them time to think because they are always processing  and analyzing options. 

Problem Solving

For them, every problem requires thinking it through deeply to be sure they understand the “real” problem. Strategic thinkers want to address the root issue not put on a quick fix. They are conceptual thinkers and enjoy exploring theories they can put into practice to achieve their outcomes. Every problem must be analyzed deeply to offer strategic solutions that get results.

Setting Expectations

They are all about evaluation and results. They set the bar high and expect competency in others. They prefer to state it once and expect people to “get it” and “do it” with a single framing of the situation. Ask questions to understand their expectations because they may not be able to easily describe what they want  in simple, concrete language. Their natural tendency is to critique because they are always looking for ways to improve. They easily separate issues from people in their thinking, so they see their critique as not being personal. 

Tips for Your Strategic Thinkers:

Tips to connect with a Strategic Thinker:

  • Support opinions with logical reasoning
  • Share main points, add detail if necessary
  • Offer them the freedom to explore “outside the box”
  • Skip the “small talk” or any redundancy and get to the point
  • Detach from any emotional context and focus on the issue 

Tips to moderate your style if you are a Strategic Thinker:

  • Invite others to influence your thinking
  • Offer genuine, positive feedback  
  • Watch the tendency to be overly critical
  • Pause to celebrate accomplishments, especially other’s accomplishments
  • Don’t overlook the people side of strategy 

What’s Next?

Spend time this week familiarizing yourself with the Strategic Thinker communication style. What new insights did you pick up? Who do you know that appear to have this communication style? What could you try this week that would create space for a Strategic Thinker on your team to share their goals and their thinking? 

Please share in the Comments any stories or insights you’ve gained from working with a Strategic Thinker.

Enjoy the journey! If you haven’t downloaded my Communication Style Assessment, get it right HERE and blogs will be delivered right to your email.

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Annie Perdue Olson

Annie is founder of Leading Better Together, guiding leaders through the relationship and people challenges that sidetrack ministry. With 20+ years of experience in nonprofit management and pastoral ministry she equips people and teams to work better together. She holds a Master of Arts in Human Resources and Change Leadership from St. Thomas University and received her coaching certification from the Center of Coaching Excellence.

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