Strengths Coaching Blog

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Strategic: Seeing Patterns Where Others See Complexity - Theme Thursday Season 3

On this Theme Thursday Season Three webcast, Jim Collison, Gallup's Director of Talent Sourcing, and Maika Leibbrandt, Senior Workplace Consultant, talk about Strategic with guest Tess Starman





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The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity. Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? OK, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. 

Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path — your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward. This is your Strategic theme at work: “What if?” Select. Strike.

Strategic is not just thinking carefully. As a CliftonStrengths Theme try to think about who looks for options. Consider someone who asks “what if” and “if then” Strategic can be about zooming out. As an individual this can mean thinking one level up. As a leader this understanding still applies, but you are just going one further level up.  You can spot patterns, and consider multiple different ways to proceed. Strategic isn’t generally a linear train of thought, but being able to see the entire view all at once. Consider different ways that you might get these points across to let others know the speed in which your thought process works. Catching you in the middle of this culling process can be dizzying, it is very important to have strong partners that can help you during these times. Who can sharpen your thinking edge?

Individuals high with Strategic can fall into the trap of carrying the cerebral load. Because you are constantly thinking about what could happen, you can jump in and do that thinking for everybody. It is important for leaders with high Strategic to think about how to take what you have delegated and share it with other people. Sort out how to think collaboratively, as well as laying out expectations. The challenge of being a leader with Strategic is not just mapping out all of it on your own, but using to your advantage the fact that you think a little bit backwards. Use this to show others what success looks like. 

A leader with Strategic might build trust by knowing the details of past successes that you have planned. Strategic by itself isn’t necessarily about the future or the past, but about the plan. It’s about the possibilities, and playing out the alternatives. Really study the times your plan has worked. A leader can build stability by testing out your plans with a mutual thought partner when you are unsure. Strategic by itself is about having as many alternatives as possible, and never backing yourself into a corner you can’t get out of. A leader might use Strategic to show compassion by turning your curiosity into the plots and patterns of your people. You can spot patterns and opportunities for development even before your followers do. Strategic can inspire hope because the nature of Strategic is anticipatory. It is about thinking about what is going to happen, and what could be the best result of today’s actions. It is about planning what you can do to lead to a better tomorrow. 

How do you feel about the Strategic theme in a leadership role? Share your thoughts and experiences on the Called to Coach Facebook page.

Pressed for time? We now have all of our Theme Thursday videos in short, easy-to-digest snippets and other Gallup-Certified Strengths Coaches break down the nuances of each theme.

Early bird pricing for the 2018 CliftonStrengths Summit ends December 7th. Learn more here.


Tess Starman is the Data & Match Support Specialist for the TeamMates Mentoring Program. She is the database administrator and responsible for collecting all company data, providing metrics and measuring outcomes to ensure the effectiveness of TeamMates. She also assists in the implementation of CliftonStrengths within the mentoring program.

Tess's top five strengths are: Context, Adaptability, Strategic, Learner, Individualization.

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