What Makes a Good Strategist?

Having been in the professional world for 7 years, I’ve encountered so many bright minds in business strategy and experienced my fair share of missteps common among those in early career stages. Working in media kept me challenged because we operated as consulting partners with our clients, advising them how to best plan their marketing budgets and maximize their presence in the eyes of their customers.

Now, my current role puts me right in the heart of strategy, working on initiatives supported by a corporate strategy office. My media experience is somewhat of an outlier compared to my peers; there is an outdated notion in business circles outside of marketing that our field is more fluff than science. Whereas my former peer group of marketing professionals would vehemently disagree, since most of them have technical, if not scientific, backgrounds.

So having been part of teams responsible for developing marketing strategy for growing brand portfolios valued in the multibillions, and seeing how strategy is developed in a corporate strategy office, here are my thoughts on what makes a good strategist.

Good strategists are…

  • able to translate complex strategy into a simple business objective
  • those who focus on a (most often, singular) business objective
  • those who are able to provide a roadmap from strategy to tactics, guiding the team toward execution
  • able to deal with ambiguity because they know they have it in them to course correct
  • those who never let the competition out of his mind
  • decisive, but also looks for flexible avenues if made necessary
  • those who are open to unexpected outcomes
  • those who possess a compass in his mind, not a GPS, since strategy is rarely prescriptive or repeatable (no two circumstances are ever identical)
  • those who can think 10 steps ahead
  • those who has a talent for engaging people and hiring them fast; operating in real time is critical
  • those who can draw up a map for others when most people only see a tangled web of barriers, process, and politics
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