Are you always one step ahead of the game? If so, you might have the Strategic Strength, which is all about getting clear on the end goal and pushing away the clutter. Those of us with the Strategic Strength excel at creating detailed plans that account for potential obstacles that might come our way. Like a GPS – we set the destination then find the “best” route there (while always having a Plan B in case of construction, traffic, or a sudden craving for ice cream). Depending on the mix of people’s other Strengths, Strategic may be more or less excited to put these elaborate plans into action.
As someone with Strategic as my #1 Strength, I’m happiest when I work with others who are organized in their thinking and can communicate their ideas clearly. When collaborating, I really appreciate when people can articulate the end goal and explain the reason for the goal. Beyond a general direction and a rationale, I don’t need a lot more information to get started in planning.
I also enjoy being in a role where I’m helping others clarify their ideas. As a public health educator, my Strategic Strength enjoys teaching program planning and evaluation workshops that focus on using logic models. In these sessions, people learn how to make a visual representation that shows the different aspects of a program and how they work together to reach the long-term goals. People also learn how to use these images to plan, implement, and evaluate a program to see if it is working well. (Side note: I once had a friend that made a logic model to plan how she was going to get married at 30. While the plan didn’t work, I appreciated her creative application of a logic model.)
In my work as a CliftonStrengths coach, Strategic loves designing and facilitating workshops that help people discover and understand their unique talents. When working with clients to plan a Strengths workshop, I use Strategic to ask questions and clarify the end goal. I always ask some form of this question: “What are you hoping will be different with your people after attending this workshop?” We also talk about what is realistic and feasible within the time period the client has blocked out for our work together.
Once I know where we’re headed, I work with clients to backwards plan, starting with the desired outcomes, then determining the steps needed to achieve them. During the workshop, I am able to adapt and adjust the plan as needed, using my skills to guide the group towards the desired outcomes.
While my Strategic Strength enjoys innovative ideas, I get annoyed when people don’t have clear thinking to back up their plans. I also get frustrated with people who change up the plan without communicating about it or without having a good reason. It’s really important for me to understand the WHY. For example, if a colleague proposes a new program but can’t explain the reasoning behind it, I might become frustrated because I don’t see the logic behind the plan. (How can I trust your plan if you can’t tell me why it’s a good idea?)
Strategic gets annoyed in environments where people can’t figure out what they want to do or where they want to go. It drives me nuts to be in meetings or workshops that don’t have a clear roadmap to get from A to B! For example, if I’m in a meeting and we spend hours discussing ideas without ever deciding on an actual goal or a specific course of action, I get frustrated because I feel like I’m spinning my wheels and wasting my time.
Additionally, Strategic enjoys novelty and doesn’t like doing things the same way every time. I want the freedom to change things up midcourse if things aren’t working. And honestly, when things are the same every time, my Strategic Strength doesn’t have anything to do, so there’s a strong chance I’ll get bored and check out. For example, if I’m working on a project and we keep using the same techniques over and over – even if they work just fine – I might become restless because I’m not being challenged or stimulated by the work.
When you have a complicated problem to solve, you can count on someone with Strategic to be creative, imaginative, and persistent with solutions. We’re great at quickly sifting through the options and choosing the one that has the highest chance of success. Need someone who can be decisive and make bold choices on the best way forward? Call someone with Strategic!
By Ariela Freedman
Interested in learning more about how to put Strengths to work for yourself or your team?