Do you think you’re a strategist? You’re probably wrong.

It is a cliche that everyone thinks they’re a strategist. The reason everyone thinks they’re a strategist is because they don’t know what a strategist does.

Get a reality check. Odds are you are not a strategist.
Strategy requires thinking conceptually and creating something from nothing. So, for the most part, if you need to see something in order to do strategy then you are not doing strategy, you’re doing editing. 

Strategists usually favor thinking about the future instead of the present; strategists I admire are bored by what is and focus on what could be.

Also, strategy means constantly making decisions based on incomplete information. It means taking intellectual leaps of faith that could derail many departments in an organization, and doing that with confidence.

The best thing you can do for your career is take a personality test to understand your strengths. If you are an INTJ you really are a strategist. If you are not an INTJ, the fewer letters you have that match that, the further away from strategist you are. So get some self-knowledge before you declare yourself a strategist.

If you’re not a strategist, find work that plays to your strengths.
So look, most of you aren’t strategists. But so what? It doesn’t mean you’re not brilliant. There are many ways to be brilliant.

It is a misconception that the strategists do all the important work and everyone else does grunt work. There’s plenty of important, interesting work that is detail-oriented and highly creative, such as building a space ship or doing cinematography.

A lot of people think that if they are not creative or technical then they are strategists. This is not always true. A strategist thinks very big picture and also thinks ahead in time. People who are not artists or programmers and think in terms of the here and now are managers. If you do that with charisma, you’re a leader.

If you are a strategist, then quit talking about it and do it.
Most people I have managed have told me, at one point or another, that their strength is strategy. For the most part, I hear this as “I don’t know how to execute what you’re asking me to execute.” This is why the best way to understand how to do strategy is to execute on other peoples’ strategies. You see first-hand what the common pitfalls of strategy are.

Stop complaining that you are a frustrated strategist because today people at all levels in the organization are getting more opportunity to show their talent as strategists.

This trend is partly a result of management theorists focusing on improving work for the lower ranks–not because improving entry-level work is ethical, but because the topic of how to be a better leader is exhausted, and academics need something fresh to write about, according to the Wall Street Journal

An example of this trend toward glorifying the low-ranking employee is the book Followership: How Followers are Creating Change and Changing Leaders, by Barbara Kellerman, professor at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. Research like Kellerman’s should drive home to you that if you’re a strategist, you can do it from anywhere in the org chart. So think of a great strategy in your entry-level job and then develop a strategy to convince people in the company to listen to you. That’s a test of your strategic strength right there.

And if you’re not doing strategy in your current job, you might consider that you are like the guy who thinks he is a novelist but is not writing a novel: People do what their strengths are regardless of what their job description is. Real leaders will lead in any situation they find themselves. Real writers will always write, no matter what their day job is. And real strategists will always think in terms of the conceptual future, from any job they have.

Posted in Knowing yourself, No image
76 comments on “Do you think you’re a strategist? You’re probably wrong.
  1. Caitlin says:

    I’ve never heard anyone declare themselves a strategist before, with the exception of people who have that on their business card. I must move in different circles to you!

    I did the test and I am an ENTP. Why do you say that only INTJ people are strategists? One of the careers listed for my personality type is “strategic planner”. It also has a lot of suggestions about entrepreneurship, management consultancy, political management and marketing (which are all very much about strategy).

    Not that I’m hung up on whether strategy is my thing or not. I think tactics (which is a different thing) and execution is equally important. And I’m perfectly in my career.

    • Cyn Bagley says:

      I really enjoyed this article. Recently I took a short Meyers-briggs test and was an INTJ. Now don’t get me wrong, I was pretty pumped. But, I have taken the test many times and have gotten different results each time depending on my current age. (ISTP, INTP, INTJ) It seems that the P & J changes depending on what I feel like that day…

      I don’t consider myself a strategist even though I like strategy games. I can make something out of nothing… and I do like mixing and matching disciplines. You can learn a lot by mixing biology with history, etc.

      But, my greatest strength is my ability to write. It is my way of understand what I am thinking.

      So I agree. There are very few strategists in the world. We only need a few.

  2. Alan Wilensky says:

    You better watch it:

    If you are a contractor and put ‘Strategist’, on your card, you better have credentials. And references.

    I work as a ‘product sector strategy analyst’, which I limit to B2B web based business units that are hitting the wall. I go in after the internal team has run out of ideas, and see if the original assumptions were flawed, and what can be done to find alternative markets, channels, and partners.

    Sometimes, the top down strategy from the top is commanded as such, and no consultant can steer even one small wheel.

    Watch out strategists!

  3. David G says:

    Great article today. I see it as common practice for people to misidentify themselves and their strengths in the workplace everyday. People see other individuals shine at leadership, strategy, organization, what have you … they then think to themselves, “I admire what that person has accomplished, ergo I too have their same qualities.”

    The trick here is for an individual to honestly identify their own strength, which can be difficult in light of the fact that people like what others have, versus liking what they themselves uniquely have.

    Alan above forewarns people of labeling themselves strategists, despite the fact he himself is labeled as one … then proceeds to describe that what he actually does is edit the work of others, “I go in after the internal team has run out of ideas, and see if the original assumptions were flawed,” (aka, amending the foundational work that others had already come up with).

    Anyhow, great article on advising people to honestly look for, and then encourage, their own strengths. It just so happened that you chose to focus on strategy as the topic in defining one’s own strength.

  4. Norcross says:

    That title reminds me of the recent IBM commericals regarding “innovation”, where nothing actually gets done. Strategy, like tactics and ideas, are great and certainly needed, but if the “strategist” has no idea on how to actually do what they suggest, what have they brought to the table?

  5. Alan Wilensky says:

    David:

    The grand title of strategist supposes a level of top down steering that few consultants can hope to exert.

    My practice is ‘product strategy’ in a specific sector, B2B, service economy. I am invited inside to offer concrete alternatives and channels. If I don’t deliver, my compensation is greatly diminished,

    So, you are wrong in your declaration.

  6. SA says:

    I’m halfway through answering the first question and I already know I’m not going to like/trust the answer. First of all, how much faith would you put in a four question personality test? If if were dozens of questions it might be more accurate. Even if it were only one question, but they type that you could be clearly one or the other It would tell more about your personality.

    Second, I don’t think my personality totally defines my abilities. In my job I have to tell people what to do. Not in a managerial way but in a regulatory or enforcement way. People don’t often like what they see as threats to personal freedom, so at first I tried to present that as innocuously as possible. Then I realized that 1. either I’m right and the regulation is for their good or the good of the public, or 2. the law is what it is and it doesn’t really matter what either of us think.

    Now, with no change in my personality, I’ve changed how I approach my job. Simply put, I own my job now, which really frees me up to think and do other things, including doing whatever it is that strategists do. Like comment on blogs.

    * * * * * * *

    The personality test I linked to is abridged — which complements my own attention span. But if you like to be more thorough you can take the complete Myers-Briggs test, which is all over the Internet.

    –Penelope

  7. Samara says:

    I took a personality similair to that one last year a found out that I was an INTJ. I have been actually trying to be more of a INFJ because my significant other says that I seem extremly reserved and complained about me not expressing my feelings. It’s really hard to do that for me unless I’m writing.

    Also when I was reading about how stragetist just do things. I’m guilty of that. I was talking about moving to Florida for 8 years (Ever since I was 17) the next thing you know I up a moved to Florida without a job and $3000 because this is where I wanted to be. I had the confidence that I was going to find something really great. And what do ya know…I did!

  8. Anna says:

    SA,

    The test Penelope linked to is an extremely short version of the Meyers-Brigg, which takes at least 30 minutes to complete and is quite long. Unfortunately, I don’t believe there’s a comprehensive Meyers-Brigg test online, because you have to have a certified test-giver administer it to you.

    I have found Meyers-Brigg to be quite accurate and quite telling, when the full test is taken.

  9. thom singer says:

    what about being and ENTJ?

    * * ** * *

    Right that’s what I am. Good memory. Maybe ENTJ means that I am a strategist who spends too much time telling to the world about it :)

    –Penelope

  10. Mark says:

    Good posting and I fully agree that the terms strategist and strategy are wildly overused today.

    As for the “best” Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, I would suggest there are a few that are stronger than INTJ for a potential strategist. First, though an I (Introversion) is likely to make great insights on their own, they will have trouble motivating others to be impressed by it. That is, the take-up of the idea will be harder.

    Then the J (Judging) dimension is generally weaker than P (Perceiving) for a strategist. The J person is great as cutting through the BS and concentrating on what’s important (many business leaders are J) but a P person is always seeing possibilities. They truly love the future and options.

    The “NT” part is classic for a scientist. Making intuitive leaps and thinking about the world as it could be. So I agree there, though in some more humanities oriented areas an NF (Intuitive/Feeling) person may be a better strategist. NF is a rare combination though.

    An important point about MBTI though is these are only preferences. They tell what comes naturally to a person. But everyone can work more or less well in the other dimensions. Except me. I couldn’t act as a J to save myself!

  11. David G says:

    Back to Alan -

    I guess I’m not really looking for right or wrong here.

    I think PT’s point about being a Strategist vs an Editor was valid. And I assume that you working in the position that you do, would agree that those are two distinct and different roles.

    As for Strategy being a top-down implementation … that may play true in an environment, that PT often touches on, run by Boomer mentality, “follow orders from the top down, and pay your dues to those who have come before you.” – But you and I both know that type of “strategy” does not play well in today’s work environment.

    My view of Strategy these days, coming from a research and development experience, is that of setting your vision … as I often do in software development to fill gaps in user applications … following that vision, and most importantly, installing talented people who can help you realize that vision.

    The talented people you choose to contribute to your Strategy is probably the key factor in realizing your strategy. NOT top-down. Top-down administrations feel they have all the answers and know-how, and as such, suffer in that short-sightedness.

    In contrast, my approach on Strategy is setting sights on the far end goal of achieving a final product, and managing more talented people than I to realize the development of that goal. I personally trust a tried and true techie to write 50 lines of code much better than I ever could, and a former cheerleader to go out and sell that much better designed software in a way that I am not capable of.

    So in that strategy, I see all members of the team as important to the whole, not top down, in realizing my strategy.

  12. Tiffany Monhollon says:

    Hm. Well, I’m not that type, but I’ve had other personality-based strengths test label strategy as my top strength, and I act strategically as a basic default, so I’m not exactly sure I agree that INTJ is the only true strategic type. Or maybe it’s how you define strategic? I think that like a lot of things in life, the lines are sort of blurry between all that is and all that isn’t one thing or another. I guess I’m saying that there are levels, and just because you’re not 100% strategic doesn’t mean you’re not any at all.

    * * * * * * *
    This is true, Tiffany. Good point.
    Gray areas are not my strength. I think this is what makes me a good blogger and bad negotiator….

    –Penelope

  13. Dave Atkins says:

    Best advice here is to develop a strategy to become an effective strategist. I’m an INTJ in a very operational role for now. But a simple change of job title or responsibilities is not going to magically transform my role. So I have to figure out how to gain influence and demonstrate I can get things done.

    The Meyers Briggs test is more valuable as a relative tool to help people understand how they communicate with one another. It bothers me to hear people using it to “typecast” folks and limit what they can do because they are a certain type. Understanding your type can help you understand why you prefer a certain work style or why you interact with someone of a different type in a difficult manner, but taking a test does not tell you what you can and cannot do.

    I really disagree that people do what their strengths are despite their job description. People do what works. You could be a strong writer and great strategist, but maybe other skills you have are more directly relevant and valuable. When people appreciate those skills and you are able to make a difference in your work by using them, you run with it. In many situations and companies, mediocre strategy and writing are adequate to keep the company afloat for a few years and the challenge of “fixing everything” is just not worth the effort.

  14. Recruitnik says:

    myself as someone that

  15. Presh Talwalkar says:

    Fantastic post. I remember the first time I applied for consulting jobs, I heavily favored the listings that said “come up with client solutions” instead of “implement client solutions.” On the job, I realized its the people who can mix those skills that are usually valued the most. So your advice made a lot of sense to me (I tested INTJ) that strategists should do more with executing.

  16. Erik says:

    So close! INTP!

  17. Ed Brenegar says:

    I’m an ENTJ and by your definition, I am a strategist. However, it isn’t who I am, it is what I do. The larger the problem, the bigger the picture, the greater the challenge, the more intellectually and personally satisfying the work of strategy is.
    With the MBTI, the NT preferences are ideal for logical reflection on possibilities and the big picture. If you are a J, you are going to move more towards being an implementer of strategy, while the P’s develop it.

  18. Patricia says:

    Thanks. I was wondering the other day what a strategist is. I’ve seen people in my company (one of the largest employers in my province) describe themselves that way on their websites, but it’s not even part of their official job title….

  19. anirban says:

    INTJ type is usually seen in programmers. This has been proven by survey’s (see the book Rapid Development)

  20. Matt Bingham says:

    I’d like to think that I can look forward at the whole picture and base decisions today on what will be tomorrow – but sometimes it gets me in trouble. When putting together project designs I find myself thinking about the “How” before the “What” and before I know it I’m in a knot. The “What” would be in the now and the “how” is what’s tomorrow. Would you agree that if you are a strategist (which I am not by any means) that you still have to consider the present to help you with your “strategy”?

  21. Caitlin says:

    Just to clarify, I meant _employees_ who have ‘strategist’ on their business card. I mean when it’s an actual job within a company, not when contractors use it as a self-assigned title.

    True strategy is important and often sorely lacking in even big companies. It’s true that, while implementation is important as well, the execution _can_ be delegated to others and the strategist will still have provided value. I think the problem is that a lot of people who are actually mediocre at strategy want to do it because it’s perceived as glamorous and there’s less grunt work. Also it’s how senior managers justify big salaries, even whilst eroding companies’ market share and/or profits. (They all want to make their mark so they end up with a lot of wrong-headed strategies, such as HP buying Compaq, which it’s only now beginning to recover from; or the AOL and Time Warner merger).

    Many people can do both strategy and implementation adequately but few can be brilliant at both. However, I think good strategy requires an understanding of how things are done in the field so that it’s rooted in a sound and practical base knowledge. A strategist might not be a good implementer but they should at least have some experience at being in an operational role.

    I’m not sure I 100% agree with Penelope’s definition of strategist v editor. It’s true to a certain extent but no one is ever completely creating something from nothing – they are always either building on something someone’s done before, or even in a start-up they are creating something that needs to fit in with market realities. There is _always_ context and to a certain extent that’s editing.

    I thought the test, although it was only four questions, fit quite well. The description of an ENTP does sound like me. I would still be interested to know why Penelope doesn’t think that’s strategic though – the description and the list of job suggestions sounded a lot more strategic than I expected.

    PS My original comment had a typo – it should have been “perfectly _happy_ in my career”.

  22. Doug says:

    Penelope’s point about personality type is essential, particularly the S-N preference. I work in a quant field, and I read somewhere that 90% of accountants are “S” on the MBTI. And I’ve worked with obvious SJ types who were great accountants and graduates of good schools, but horrible at understanding business issues. I’ve found without a strong “N” preference, you will look for frameworks and models someone else has already used, rather than create one yourself.

    Also would add you don’t always need to do a test, some cases are fairly obvious, particularly the S-N piece.

  23. Jami says:

    I’m with Caitlin, I’ve never heard anyone say they’re a strategist before either. Interesting article, this is something I’ve never really thought about before. These 2 sentences especially resonated with me:

    “Strategists usually favor thinking about the future instead of the present; strategists I admire are bored by what is and focus on what could be.”

    The first time I took the Myers-Briggs test was in college and I had one of those great “Ah ha!” moments. Just from reading the descriptions of each trait I knew immediately I was an INTJ and my boyfriend was the *exact* opposite. We would get really frustrated with each other at times and this test made it clear to me why. It was like “Wow, maybe he isn’t the crazy jerk I thought he was. He might actually have a legitimate point of view!” Very eye opening.

  24. Jim says:

    Strategy does not exist without execution.

    Leaders do not exist without followers.

  25. deepali says:

    I am clearly the only person who was completely baffled by this post. The only thing I got out of it was that you shouldn’t claim to be what you aren’t. But the whole “strategist” thing was over my head.

    * * * * * *

    Well, the lesson of not claiming to be who you aren’t is a big lesson in itself, right? Because the hardest part of that is knowing who you are. And in the end, knowing who you are might be the subtopic of every post on this blog. So in that regard, maybe you weren’t so baffled as you think.

    Penelope

  26. David Rees says:

    I agree that you should be careful about tossing out the S word in the job market. There are business strategists, technical strategists and as we have seen here, niche strategists.

    Most interesting to me is the abundance of xNTx personalities on this blog. David Keirsey (www.keirsey.com) has his own take on MBTI and he defines the four archetypes as excelling if four different areas of intelligence.

    In his model, the NT most easily excels in “strategic” intelligence and of course, each of the 4 NT subtypes have their own label (Architect, Inventor, Master Mind, Field Marshall). It is interesting to read as a tool for self discovery.

    I am ENTP, my brother INTP and my cousin is INTJ – I am quite certain that if we could find a good ENTJ (Penelope?) to complete the circle of power and a good ISTJ to watch the books, we could take over the world.

    You do not have to be a professional strategist to engage in strategic thinking any more than you have to be a professional nurse to take care of a sick person. There is great value in developing your strategic intelligence as a tool to better understand your world, why things happen and how best to influence them for your benefit.

    I do not agree that “strategy” has to always be “active” in the sense of setting plans and promoting a vision. In Art of War, Sun Tzu describes a successful general as someone who, through self knowledge and perception, does not so much contend for victory as perceive the conditions necessary for victory to be attained and take the opportunity.

    Developing this mindset is useful in many areas of life that have nothing to do with the title on your business card.

  27. Dean @ Reed/Shaw Associates says:

    Penelope, I really appreciate your perspective. And…I was surprised to see you wheel out the MBTI (Myers-Briggs Type Indicator) as a personality test capable of supporting one's argument that s/he is a strategist.

    MBTI has been around for years and categorizes people into only 16 types, of which INTJ is one. People have frequently identified me as a strategist, and I’m and ENTJ…and extravert…because that’s where ideas come from, too, other people. And strategy is about combining ideas to develop a strong plan of action.

    I prefer a different personality test, the StrengthsFinder, recently updated by the Gallup Organization at http://sf2.strengthsfinder.com/

    It identifies an individual's top strengths with clear titles and descriptions. Strategic, my top strength, is described as follows in the earlier version of StrengthsFinder:
    ___________________________________

    The Strategic theme enables you to sort through the clutter and find the best route. It is not a skill that can be taught. It is a distinct way of thinking, a special perspective on the world at large. This perspective allows you to see patterns where others simply see complexity.

    Mindful of these patterns, you play out alternative scenarios, always asking, “What if this happened? Okay, well what if this happened?” This recurring question helps you see around the next corner. There you can evaluate accurately the potential obstacles. Guided by where you see each path leading, you start to make selections. You discard the paths that lead nowhere. You discard the paths that lead straight into resistance. You discard the paths that lead into a fog of confusion. You cull and make selections until you arrive at the chosen path – your strategy. Armed with your strategy, you strike forward.

    This is your Strategic theme at work: “What if?” Select. Strike.
    _______________________________________________________

    Just something to consider. MBTI has its place. So do other assessments. Another good one is the Strong Interest Inventory (SII) — which approaches personality not as “who you are” inherently, but “what activities are your true interests.

    You have a valid point about action, Penelope. If you are not developing and applying strategy, or persuading others to apply your strategy, then you are not really a strategist.

    Best regards and great respect for you,
    Dean

  28. Dennis McDonald says:

    While I’m positive about your theme, I can’t really follow your thoughts since you don’t really define what “strategy” is or what a “strategist” does.

  29. Dean Whitney says:

    I think I am a strategist – although I don’t have that written on my business card. The kind of strategies I recommend or help develop usually take into consideration many factors; financial, technology, schedule, resources, ROI etc.

    Not too many businesses executing strategies have the luxury of starting with no constraints – but I don’t think that reduces thought-leaders to editors. I suppose there is some editing that happens but its the insight I bring to the table that will consider a goal (more traffic, more revenue, new members etc.), what the current state looks like, and facilitate a process that results in a plan.

    I also play the role of filtering ideas, many stakeholders will bring suggestions that can immediately be eliminated. Narrowing down the list of consideration in getting from nothing to strategy speeds up the process.

    I don’t know, maybe I’m kidding myself and should go back to landscaping. Oh wait, they don’t get paid as much and I don’t have to get dirty.

  30. Cinthia says:

    I don’t even know what a strategist is and the mere word makes me want to go take a nap.

  31. Rich says:

    Great post!

    People like to identify themselves as ‘Strategist’ because they think they are above the work they are doing, and calling themselves a strategist makes them sound more like the CEO than the clerk or desk jockey that they really are.

    My experience is that most people who use the word are useless. They either spend too much time with their friends reminiscing about b-school or have just wrapped up their MBA’s and are trying to avoid entry level work. In either case, strategic thinking and the ability to execute are a rare combination. And you usually know who has those qualities because you see their names and pictures on the annual report.

    The question is, if you are a strategist…then what is your strategy?

  32. David Rees says:

    This has been bothering me since I read it earlier today.

    I think you are indistinguishing (coined!) intuition and strategy and further mucking it up by trying to relate that to a job title.

    Meyers Briggs types are very generalized and do not directly map to skills, talents, aptitudes or preferences any more specific than the 4 ipsative preferences in each type.

    The iNtuitive function does play into strategy but they are not at all the same thing and having an N in your type is no guarantee that you are at all strategic.

    Strategy as a word covers a LOT of ground – look at the responses covering work, Buckingham, MBTI, etc.

    There may be lot of wanna be strategists out there with little aptitude and there are likely a lot of people with deep strategic insight, but to try to draw a line in the sand and say that INTJs are the born strategists and every differing letter means less brain cells in the strategic lobe is just sloppy thinking.

    I do not think you can draw a line around “strategy” and say this person is or is not, this job requires it or does not – it is not a discrete process that can be isolated or definitively measured like mathematical ability – it interacts with our values, perceptions, skills – some may be more “strategic” in social interactions and relationship building where as some may develop their ability towards technology or competitive venues.

    If I was less charitable, I would think some of you were being rather snobbish about the whole subject.

  33. John Feier says:

    I am pleasantly surprised by the quality of posts here on this topic. Also, Penelope gave me the impression that this was something she enjoyed writing about, which may have contributed greatly to the objective nature of the piece.

    I was looking at the results of an MBTI I took about seven years ago at a local junior college at the request of my academic counselor. I have the results right here in front of me. Wouldn’t you know it? I’m an INTJ. :)

    My academic counselor told me that it would be smart to get into a job that required heavy analysis and brainstorming for any problems found in that analysis. She recommended, based on classes already completed and what I had told her of my preferences, that I go to business school for accounting. So, here I am, a couple weeks before the first section of the CPA exam.

    I would really like to write and consult. I’m thinking something like offering consultation services for people seeking advice on business plan development and using my CPA designation as a source of credibility towards that end would be more to my liking. But CPA’s do that type of work anyway and then some. If, for instance, I can only pull 30% of my earnings from business plan consulting, then I have to do something else for the other 70%, including work that I don’t want to do.

    The reason I like business plan development is because I want to help small businesses get started. I know that small business is the biggest employer in our economy. If we can improve our economy, whether we do it through small business or whatever, then we are also doing something that will directly improve the lives of people in general. So, at least I’m motivated for a cause that will help the world, my part of the world anyway.

  34. Sarah Rottenberg says:

    I generally like your posts, Penelope, but I just can’t get behind telling folks that they need to be a certain Meyers-Briggs type to be a true strategist. I’m all in favor of playing to your strengths, and I do believe that people are happier when they choose careers that they are suited for. But I don’t know if any test alone can make that determination. In fact, I just wrote a post about this today on my blog – http://officemeetsplayground.wordpress.com/2008/01/14/the-power-of-labels-or-supernanny-vs-strenghtsfinder/

  35. dorian says:

    i think strategist(it’s all in the idea) are those who can forsee future events or issues that may effect a company and as a result use their area of expertise,their planning and organisng skills to execute what is required on a daily basis (this is known as tactics).

    strategies create benefit
    tactics create results

  36. Shefaly says:

    Rich says: “People like to identify themselves as – €˜Strategist' because they think they are above the work they are doing, and calling themselves a strategist makes them sound more like the CEO than the clerk or desk jockey that they really are.”

    This reminds me of a story about bricklayers. When asked what they were doing, one said he was laying bricks; another said he was building a cathedral. In some way, it is important that the ‘clerks’ and the ‘desk jockeys’ – although to assume automatically that someone who is not a CEO is either of these two and nothing else is kind of odd in itself – also buy into the vision of the organisation. Good on those who can look beyond their tasks to see the reason they are doing those tasks! If only more had such purposefulness in their apparently aimless lives..

    On another note, I agree with Sarah. Narrowly defined labels can but do not always become self-fulfilling prophecies; but they can damage a lot of possibilities in their wake.

  37. 40 - €“ - €“ Now What? says:

    A senior colleague recently asked me if I considered myself a senior strategist, and while I did, she gave me to think I might be alone in that opinion.

    She suggested I do a “perception audit” and see what potential clients think about me. I haven’t yet, but I think it’s good advice to figure out if I really am perceived as the “senior strategist” I believe myself to be.

    Being a strategist is one thing, but do others see you that way too? Have you proven yourself?

  38. anonymous says:

    I am an INTJ. I am a global thinker and a strategizer. I have never thought of or used “strategist” as a title for myself.

    I am very creative and very conceptual. I have degrees and academic teaching experience to back this. But in the corporate world, if I try and speak my mind, I’m told I’m rocking the boat or that I “backtalk” too much. I have no use for hierarchy when I know collaboration will get the job done more effectively!

    But I keep getting stuck in jobs executing other people’s flawed strategies! Do I need to go back to academia?

  39. Kelly Baker says:

    I disagree with this post on several points:

    - Strategy is not “creating something new from nothing”. That is the definition of innovation, not strategy. A successful business strategy could be to do absolutely nothing different than last year.

    - That strategy is limited to one personality type. Strategic thinking is a learned skill. Sure some personality types may adopt it more naturally, but most people can learn it.

    - That strategy should be the territory of only the few. This is a frankly patronizing view similar to the now-mothballed theory of “charismatic leadership”. We now know that leadership happens on all levels and among all types of people. Strategy is the same.

  40. Ryan Baptiste says:

    My title is Growth Strategist. I am also currently an Account Manager within the company. So I have two titles for one business.

    I do my Account Manager job during the day and devlop strategies for the company at night. This takes me about 100 hours of work a week.

    I decided to do it this way because the Account Manager (AM) is the heart and soul of the company. AM’s are the people who service the customers who buy our product.

    To be a true strategist, I must know exactly how the job should be done to develop the most optimized position and tools with the best results. Manuels, Job Duties, Software Programs, Hardware, CRM Apps, Company Branding Image, Etc… must be communicated clearly, fastly, and organized for the experience to be profitable for the company and customer ascentric and satifying to the customer and AM.
    The AM must be rewarded by incentive to perform at the top level expected by the Strategist.

    From there, then you have to determine on how to manage multiple account managers. That takes stratigies and organization……the whole process starts over and over again.

    Then, if your a growth strategist, you have to look at the companeis financials, marketing, sales, manufacturing, image, branding, etc…and make all these things work together.

    I see so many things that need to be done, 100 hours a week is not near enough. I have thousands upon thousands of hours worth of stuff to do and if I had a little more money to work with, I would be able to perform my job faster which would mean faster growth.

    The key to make this work is have the proper incentives in place, clear comunication, and set standards.

    “Quality is not controlled by the worker, Quality is controlled by Management”

  41. Karine Kirkpatrick says:

    I second the fact that NTJs generally tend to be more successful in the corporate world. However, I do not fully agree with your definition of ‘strategist’. It is said as if it were absolute. I think any NT rationals are fine strategists. Each of the four types are more powerful in a certain field compared to others. I can not see how INTJs are the absolute, ultimate strategists. From my experience, INTJs can be blind to spots that ENTPs can see very obviously. Part of being a great strategist certainly requires a good ‘P’.

  42. R. Alexander says:

    Moronic blog #5

  43. Potty Training says:

    I third the fact that NTJs generally tend to be more successful in the corporate world

  44. Potty Training Boys says:

    woot! nice post thanks!

  45. How To Potty Train A Toddler says:

    I was thinking the same thing as most the people above. Thanks for bringing it to my attention.

  46. alex says:

    I hope YOU’RE not a strategist; you’re making all of us look like assholes.

    Whatever you are, quit being so fcuking haughty.

  47. Ben .G says:

    I took the test.I’m a strategist.I’m a good one also.If anyone wants to stay in touch then my account is ben.gafford@yahoo.com

  48. Ben .G says:

    The information that I read didn’t help at all.All I wanted was a few tips on how to gain trust.

  49. Z says:

    Someone sent me this article…there are a few key points that I agree with, but I’d offer that there some fundamental problems

    Particularly when you claim you are an Extrovert (E), so maybe you’re “strategist who spends too much time telling to the world about it”. That statement alone shows a major misinterpretation of what an Extrovert in the context of an MBTI test is. Having learned and taught MBTI, I’d say the test clearly states that Extrovert vs. Introvert is not one’s social behavior, rather how one sources their energy and enthusiasm. A MBTI extrovert is somebody who sources their energy/enthusiasm by being around other people – a MBTI Introvert is one who best sources energy/enthusiasm on their own. MBTI extroverts aren’t necessarily the center of attention, or the loudest talkers, or even talkative at all. I know plenty of MBTI extroverts who like being in big groups but being a peripheral player. On the flipside, I have a friend who is a strong MBTI Introvert but is the most social guy I know…center of attention, friends all over the place, loves parties and people love him. But when he needs to decompress or reenergize or get ready for a big task, he likes to stay home, play his guitar or do something else creative/manual, and process that way. Your assertions about how to interpret MBTI seem flawed.

    I agree that too many people claim to be strategists, many because they say “well, I think creatively and outside the box, so I must be a strategist.” No. However to me a strategist is someone who is definitely forward thinking, constantly thinking about what their world/industry looks like in the future, while also thinking about how they/their company can play in that future. The best strategists are also the people who can help the non-strategists understand what that future looks like, and help them plan how to get their (or at the very least surround themselves by people who can help plan the bridge from now to the future). A “strategist” who only thinks about what the world looks like years out (and all the varying scenarios/flavors it might take), but does nothing to help steward that vision to those who execute on the vision isn’t a strategist at all, they’re just a dreamer. Strategy is a combination of vision as well as planning to achieve that vision.

    And “creating something from nothing” isn’t just for strategists. I know product innovators, supply chain managers, operations analysts, IT folks, etc. who would not claim to be strategists because they work with a short-term lens, but all can create wonderful "somethings from nothings" to get their jobs done with excellence.

  50. A says:

    What do you know? You’re probably just some cranky guy who’s never won a simple game of risk, or any other type of strategy game. No, I’m not mad cuz I got the wrong one, but honestly, who cares what you think?

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