What does strategic thinking mean?

I find that the capability job applicants struggle with most concerns strategic thinking. This capability can be expressed as ‘supports strategic direction’ and ‘thinks strategically’.

Here are 25 questions you can ask yourself to explore what this capability means and to find examples to use to make your case in applications. The questions cater for team members and team leaders/supervisors.

  1. Do you know what your unit does ?
  2. Have you taken steps to learn about the rest of your organisation?
  3. Have you worked out the links between your unit and other units?
  4. Have you read the vision, mission, strategic or corporate plan?
  5. Do you know what they mean – could you explain the vision and mission to a new staff member?
  6. Have you been to an induction program where the corporate plan was explained?
  7. Have you asked your manager to explain them?
  8. Can you explain how your work fits in to the whole unit?
  9. Do you know how your work contributes to the unit’s goals?
  10. Are you aware of issues that could affect your work?
  11. Do you think about your work load and how it might vary over time?
  12. Do you find more work when you haven’t got enough to do?
  13. Do you find ways to complete work when you have a lot of work to do?
  14. Do you attend team meetings and contribute to discussions of issues?
  15. Do you offer your views on what the team should be doing, and how it gets the work done?
  16. Do you notice problems that could get in the way of doing your work?
  17. Have you explained to your staff why they are doing what they are doing?
  18. Have you explained to your staff the purpose of their work?
  19. Have you explained to colleagues and/or your staff why your unit does what it does?
  20. Have you outlined for staff what results they are meant to achieve or produce?
  21. How they are to do their work?
  22. What the standards are about time, quality and quantity of work?
  23. Have you clarified for staff what the link is between what they are doing and why they are doing it?
  24. Do you think about broader influences and their impact on getting work done?
  25. Do you hold team meetings at which team goals and work plans are discussed and agreed on?
Dr Ann Villiers, career coach, writer and author, is Australia’s only Mental Nutritionist specialising in mind and language practices that help people build flexible thinking, confident speaking and quality connections with people.