The Bane of Strategic Thinkers

You can’t be anything you want to be, but you can be a whole lot more of who you already are.” ~ Tom Rath

If we’ve worked together there’s a high likelihood that we investigated your top strengths and how to use them in your leadership narrative.  The tool we’ve used is the CliftonStrengths assessment (formerly StrengthsFinder), which provides your top five strengths and their domains. 

This information offers a terrific framework to develop stories that showcase your value to people who matter — bosses, prospective employers, clients, etc. — people who will pay you for your value.

Often, what you do well, you do intuitively. This is especially true for mid-to-late career folks when it’s imperative to be able to convey our unique value. The CliftonStrengths assessment helps us do that.

If you’re interested in taking the assessment, I’ve provided a link at the bottom of this post.

Strengths and Domains

Don Clifton, who developed the assessment, identified 34 strengths that most of us possess. Clifton was recognized as “the father of strengths-based psychology and the grandfather of positive psychology.” His philosophy was that organizations conducted their performance assessments all wrong. Most focused on weaknesses that employees need to overcome. Clifton wanted to focus on building upon employees’ strengths.

Later, the list of strengths, or themes, were categorized into four domains: Executing, Influencing, Relationship Building, and Strategic Thinking. While we all operate from all four domains, we typically have a dominant one (or two) that most of our top five strengths fit into.

We use the domains to really focus on how best to convey your value. 

The Strategic Thinking Domain

Many people in leadership positions have elements of the Strategic Thinking domain. This domain includes such strengths as Analytical, Futuristic, Learner, and Strategic, among others. 

People with dominant Strategic Thinking themes help teams consider the possibilities that can be attained. They tend to collect and analyze information that can lead to better decisions. They set the vision for the team. As one client put it, “strategic thinkers can see around corners.”

Without leaders strong in Strategic Thinking, teams can flounder; experience difficulty in finding their way; or find themselves going off in different directions. So it’s important that at least one person on the team can think strategically.

The Bane of Strategic Thinkers

Here’s the rub though. We Strategic Thinkers (yep, I’m one), think EVERYONE sees what we see. We often assume that if we understand the vision; if we “get it;” then everyone else on the team does too. 

It just ain’t the case.

What may be obvious to us, just isn’t to everyone else.

Strategic Thinking often is innate. It’s part of our DNA. It can’t be taught. 

Therefore, just because we can “see” the larger picture; see around the proverbial corner, doesn’t mean others can as well. 

So the challenge of Strategic Thinkers is to make sure we bring the rest of the team along with us. We need to be able to articulate the vision, and we need to make sure everyone on the team understands it. They need not only to know what that vision is but how they fit in — what their role is in achieving the vision. 

It’s not enough to be a Strategic Thinker and understand the vision. It’s not enough to be able to share the vision with others. The real challenge for Strategic Thinkers is to make sure team members understand their individual roles within that vision.

Are You A Strategic Thinker?

If so, can you relate? Can you adequately articulate the vision for your team? And can you describe each member’s role in the vision?

If you’re not a Strategic Thinker — perhaps you’re stronger in Execution, Influencing, or Relationship Building — have you been frustrated by Strategic Thinkers who can’t explain the possibilities for the team and how you fit? Have you thought these folks were too “flakey” to lead? Have you been able to use tactics to get them to focus on how to explain their vision?

Send me an email. I want to hear what you’ve got to say. You can reach me at

By the way, if you’re unfamiliar with CliftonStrengths and are interested in knowing your top five strengths and their domains, you can take the online assessment here. It takes about 30 minutes and cost about $20.00. If you’d like some insights on your results, email me your findings, I’ll be glad to provide some feedback.

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If you’re struggling with how to achieve your career goals let’s chat about how I can help. You can use this link to my calendar to schedule the best time to talk.

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