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Leadership Development

How to Develop Strategic Skills in Your Managers

How managers can be strategic

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

an example of developing Strategic managers in an aviation organization

Strategy is an increasingly important part of today’s highly complex business environment. Decisions happen at the speed of light, situations change on a dime, and there’s little time for top-down strategy in day-to-day situations.

As we’ve written in previous blogs on leadership trends, we are seeing our clients deal with a shift in leadership development and manager development methods to emphasize the importance of strategic skills in employees. 


Here are the three areas where strategic skills come into play for leaders at all levels:

  1. Strategic Thinking: Strategic thinking involves the generation and application of unique business insights and opportunities intended to create competitive advantage for an organization. It requires understanding the big picture of the organization and its environment, focusing on long-term objectives, envisioning credible visions of possibilities and likelihoods, and anticipating future consequences and trends.
  2. Strategic Planning: Strategic planning is a process of defining strategy or direction and making decisions about how best to allocate resources to pursue the goals. Strategic planning involves setting goals, determining actions to achieve the goals, and mobilizing resources to execute the actions.
  3. Strategic Implementation/Execution: Execution done right is a disciplined process, a logical set of connected activities by an organization to make a strategy succeed. Successful implementation requires clarity of decision-making rights within a team, department or project and making sure the right information flows to the right people at the right time to implement the strategy. In this way, strategic implementation asks the manager to be a coordinator and conductor of people and information.


A Client Example of Strategic Skill-Development

Strategic thinking, planning, and execution are most needed in customer-service, mission-critical, and fast-evolving environments.

One sector which is especially rife with opportunities for developing leaders with these skills is aviation. Whether in the air or on the ground, leaders in this business must rely on a distributed and largely autonomous workforce to execute on their mission through each person’s respective role.

One of our FlashPoint clients, a provider of executive air travel services, has managers across the country that are responsible for making real-time decisions to meet the needs of clients in addition to safety standards. To best meet their needs, we designed a leadership development program that focuses on all three areas of strategy described above: strategic thinking, strategic planning, and strategic execution.

Curriculum content focused on big-picture thinking and coordinating across departmental boundaries; planning projects and marshalling resources when resources are not plentiful; and delegating and sharing information within teams and across the organization. Cohorts were composed cross-functionally and participants rated the opportunity to learn across disciplinary lines as one of the best aspects of the 12-month program.

In addition, an executive sponsor participated in the course within each cohort, participating among the managers and directors. The CEO wanted program participants to not only hear from executives but also to see them learning alongside front-line and mid-level leaders. 

Each element of the program was designed to target specific aspects of the necessary strategic areas. Participants not only gained a big-picture view of the organization and functions different from their own, they also gained experience interacting with executives, planning projects, and sharing the right information at the right time with others. In other words, they practiced exactly the kinds of strategic skills that are more in demand than ever before.


How could your managers gain the strategic skills to drive your organization forward? Would your organization benefit from a program to build strategy in the three areas we outlined in this series? Contact FlashPoint and let us know how we can partner with you!

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Tracy Puett

Tracy Puett is a past FlashPoint employee who's passionate about curriculum design, facilitation, and coaching.