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For an organization to succeed, leadership is needed. Much like planning to win a chess match, a salient characteristic of leadership is strategic thinking. So, chess is a good metaphor for leadership and strategic thinking.

So if you’re ambitious, the ability to be a strategic planner is critical for your success.

Keep in mind that true leaders aren’t arrogant or complacent. They know arrogance is really a sign of ignorance, and makes strategic planning an impossible dream.

What entails developing strategic-skills?

It means you must see the big picture.

In other words, you must be able to take a long-term approach in anticipating and solving problems with objective analysis and making decisions regarding customers, employees, finance, operations, and vendors.

Leaders are innovators. They look ahead. They don’t waste time daily just reacting and putting out fires.

Here are five steps to becoming a strategic planner:

1. Elevate your thinking by gathering information.

Read, read, read. Become a thought leader by studying relevant information affecting your sector, company, customers, workers and technology.

Don’t overlook finance. Strategic thinkers know how to prevent companies from falling into the zero-sum game trap. They focus on business profit and the four profit drivers.

2. Get a mentor.

A strong mentor will pay big dividends. Find someone known for strategic thinking — a person who is successful in ways you want as a role model.

The best mentor will keep you on target — focused on strategic thinking — and to anticipate the results of your actions. Here’s more on the mentoring process.

3. Ask the right questions.

When it comes to strategies in your company, think like a premier journalist — ask who, what, when, where, why and how.

Query your mentor. Ask questions of your boss.

Always strive to know the impacts on all stakeholders, including customers, employees and suppliers.

4. Learn what’s needed for your company’s growth.

You need to understand your organization’s situation and your marketplace.

Next, plan how you will contribute, and act accordingly.

5. Continually work to anticipate problems.

Anticipate quandaries and identify solutions. For every problem, there are multiple solutions.

The trick is to identify the best solutions that provide the best long-term benefits for the overall welfare of your company.

Don’t forget to reward yourself. A series of rewards will generate confidence leading to more success.

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“In preparing for battle I have always found that plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” 
-Dwight D. Eisenhower


Author Terry Corbell has written innumerable online business-enhancement articles, and is a business-performance consultant and profit professional. Click here to see his management services. For a complimentary chat about your business situation or to schedule him as a speaker, consultant or author, please contact Terry.