CliftonStrengths: Strategic “The Anticipator”

Faced with any given scenario, people with the theme of strategic can quickly spot the relevant patterns and issues to create alternative ways to proceed. Unfortunately, this is not a skill that can be taught, but it is a unique way of thinking that allows people to see patterns where others see complexity. These patterns are what allow people with this theme to play out alternative options to accurately evaluate potential obstacles.

Amanda Purchase Roberts, an MU Career Center senior manager, is one person in the Career Center that embodies the theme of strategic. Every time she starts a new project, Amanda explains how her strategic strength “helps [her] think through what are some potential issues that could occur so [she] could plan ahead.” To decide the best route to take, she evaluates the outcome of each possibility by looking at how it affects the stakeholders involved. “I think about if I create three different ways that we could approach this, what is the impact that it is going to have on an organization or anyone involved,” says Amanda. Because of her strategic strength, Amanda is more likely to anticipate potential issues more easily than others, and she enjoys using her strength to benefit everyone involved.

Because the strategic theme is all about thinking through ‘what-ifs’ and potential problems, the shadow side deals with always planning and not being able to make a decision. In its early form, strategic can become so enamored in the what-if that people can delay in taking action, whereas working on and maturing your strategic leads to planning in the moment, so it is important to build on your strengths to utilize their fullest potential. However, even after building on your strengths, there still may be times where you need extra motivation in making decisions.

Amanda explains how “sometimes with being strategic, I can also be hesitant; sometimes I may seem like I’m moving slowly towards the goal.” If faced with this situation, Amanda believes pairing with an activator can help because they will guide you to making decisions on time. “Sometimes it’s helpful to have someone to compliment [strategic], maybe like an activator, because they may say we need to act on this.” Another way Amanda recommends overcoming this shadow side is by identifying what the true problem is in a situation. “Thinking about…what is the true problem here, and is the true problem the thing that I am focused on or am I focused on all these little problems that are not actually getting in the way of trying to move forward.” Amanda explains how by “taking a lot of notes and then reviewing those notes,” she can bring clarity to what exactly is the true problem in a given scenario.
Choosing a career that will allow you to be a leader and voice your ideas is a perfect fit for a strategic person. Similarly, Amanda explains how her strategic strength has helped her out in different career paths. “I think that it has been very useful in the classroom…it has also been very useful [when] I used to do a lot of event planning,” she begins. “When you are thinking through an event, and something doesn’t go as what everybody else planned, if you are a strategic person and you have thought about that, you don’t go into panic mode.” Considering a career path in event planning or teaching would compliment a strategic person because they like to think and plan ahead, and if something goes wrong, they more than likely have already considered the situation and have a back up plan.
Strategic is a critical decision making theme; meaning people with strategic are motivated to make decisions when they are faced with multiple options. They can quickly assess the situation, choose a few possible options, and then strike with a decision on the best option. Because of this, their approach can be summed into three words: evaluate, select, strike. This unique ability to assess scenarios and make decisions allows those with the strategic to work best in roles of leadership where they can share their ideas with others.