People who are especially talented in the Strategic theme create alternative ways to proceed. Faced with any given scenario, they can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues.

What makes you stand out?[1]
By nature, you trust your ability to be an innovative thinker. You routinely invent many ways you can reach a single goal. Only then do you start narrowing down your options to the best one. You probably take into consideration prevailing circumstances, available resources, budgetary constraints, or pressing deadlines. It’s very likely that you probably feel very good about yourself and life in general when you know the exact words to express an idea or a feeling. Language has fascinated you since childhood. Your ever-expanding vocabulary often earns you compliments. Chances are good that you can reconfigure factual information or data in ways that reveal trends, raise issues, identify opportunities, or offer solutions. You bring an added dimension to discussions. You make sense out of seemingly unrelated information. You are likely to generate multiple action plans before you choose the best one.

Driven by your talents, you usually feel satisfied with life when your innovative thinking style is appreciated. You automatically pinpoint trends, notice problems, or identify opportunities many people overlook. Armed with this knowledge, you usually devise alternative courses of action. By evaluating the circumstances, available resources, and/or the potential consequences of each plan, you can select the best option.

Because of your strengths, you long to know more so you remain on the cutting edge of your field or areas of interest. Your inventive mind usually generates more possibilities than you can handle or fund. Nonetheless, you are committed to acquiring knowledge and/or skills. You study everything involved in a situation and conceive entirely new ways of seeing or doing things. What you already know prompts you to ask questions and delve even deeper into a subject or problem.

How can a person with Strategic turn this talent into strength?[2]

  1. Clarify. Communicate. Collaborate.
    A Strategic person can grow by adopting this simple 3-step process.

    – Clarify the team outcome.
    In a team, different people can have different agendas. Those with the Strategic talent who take time to listen and to clarify the outcome often present greater alternatives and solutions to the team as opposed to those who seek to impose their ideals. Learning to listen to team members and clarifying key outcomes required by the team are critical steps in turning a Strategic talent into a Strength. Legendary American basketball coach, John Wooden, shares this simple quote—”If, as a leader, you listen to them, then they will listen to you.” People with Strategic can make a huge impact on any team when they take time to listen to others and integrate different suggestions into their strategies.

    – Communicate your intent.
    Often, the Strategic person sees many alternatives to an outcome and these alternatives can often result in cost savings, time savings and greater efficiency. However, some of these alternatives might be perceived as shortcuts that not everyone can appreciate, particularly for those with the Responsibility talent. A person with the Strategic talent can overcome this challenge by choosing to communicate his intentions early and being upfront. Doing that often allows team members to consider the proposed alternative with a greater level of trust. It is commonplace to hear that those with Strategic talents are not upfront with their thoughts and intentions, only to be wrongly labelled as manipulative and scheming.

    – Collaborate with others.
    People with the Strategic talent can often be skilled negotiators given the innate talent to see the end goal and alternatives to reach there. When these people choose to be team-centered (through collaboration) rather than self-centered, the outcome is a win-win situation for everyone. Conversely, people who seek to strategically outfox their opponents at every single opportunity might reap benefits for themselves in the short run, but will eventually discover that the trust level between them and others in the team will decrease in the longer run. That, ironically, is Strategic being counter-productive.

  2. Win the hearts of team members.
    When people follow, they often do so because they want to, not because they have to. The genius of the Strategic talent is the ability to quickly weigh various alternative paths and determine the one that will work best and most efficiently. However, in a team, this innate talent is not necessarily recognized should this person fail to understand a simple leadership principle—the right to be followed must be earned. Those with the Strategic talent must recognize that followers tend to follow the guide more than the path. People with the Strategic talent must win the trust and the hearts of team members before they can make consistent and effective contributions to the team. Otherwise, it would not be surprising that the Strategic talent in its infancy stage can cause team members to easily feel that they are pawns in a game or resources for a task rather than people to be valued.

    With Strategic as one of my top 5 StrengthsFinder talents, I engage this talent to intentionally build relationships with my team members. Because it is not second nature to me, I make it a point to take note of others—like their preferences or their birthdays (tip: list it beside their names on the phone contact list). Listening in, sharing my desires and ambitions, as well as choosing to be vulnerable are all part of the effort on my end to demonstrate my intentions openly. Over the years, I have reaped the benefits of building trust in the team. More often than not, whenever I am misunderstood because of the way I share a particular plan or strategy, someone else in the team helps me to clarify my intentions by asking me good questions. As such, the team allows me to contribute my strategies and often adopts them to move forward. That has motivated me to contribute more productively to the team.

  3. Seek Complementary Partnerships
    Many Strategic people enjoy beating the system, especially during their teenage years. They get a kick out of discovering ways to outsmart a system that is deemed robust. They take pride in their ability to dismantle a system quickly. It is not surprising that people with Strategic talents are often a bane to those implementing rules and policies. However, if left unchecked, this innate talent can lead to one becoming power-hungry and potentially corrupt. Great partnerships formed can help a Strategic person to grow in humility and maturity.

    When a Strategic person partners those with Consistency or Responsibility, it often results in healthy tensions that force the person with Strategic to review his or her intents.

    Partner those with Responsibility
    People with Responsibility prefer not to cut corners. Partnering someone strong in the Responsibility talent allows for discussions that can encourage a Strategic person to consider responsible behavior. Questions that surface in the thought process may include: Is this the right thing to do? Will taking this shortcut potentially affect our team’s good reputation? Will venturing into this grey zone lead to corruption?

    Partner those with Consistency
    Those with the Consistency talent prefer to be fair and just. They prefer to treat everyone fairly and hate preferential treatment. The Strategic person who partners one with Consistency can enter into discussions which help to check their motivations and reconsider behaviours that can be deemed as manipulative. Questions that may arise include: What would be a good, valid reason for us to make an exception? How can I create a system that treats everyone fairly and yet rewards high performers?

Concluding thoughts
Being Strategic does not mean these people think they know best. It just means they see things differently. Engage the different perspectives they offer and you might just benefit from some Ah-ha moments!

[1] StrengthsFinder 2.0 online assessment result, PDF
[2] Ref.: Strengths School (