Strategic by Surprise

By: Emily

This year I took the StrengthsQuest assessment through Career & Internship Services and when I received my results, I thought there was a mistake. “Strategic” was my number one strength, and yet, I had never considered myself much of a planner. When I first pictured a person with this strength, I immediately thought of someone who was organized, focused on long-range goals and who knew everything from what career they wanted to have, to what they were going to cook for supper. This strategic person was someone who was always a step ahead of the game. And this person was clearly not a person like me, because I am usually a few steps behind and racing wildly to catch up.  Even though my immediate response to this strength was bewilderment, I took a deeper look and was surprised to find that I truly do identify with “strategic”.


From a definition I found on the StrengthsQuest website, the strategic theme means that you are able to see patterns, evaluate possible paths and proceed forward with confidence after having thoroughly considered all your options. Although making important decisions is usually a strenuous and drawn out task for me, it is only difficult because I look carefully at all the possible consequences of my choices before I make them.

If you have the Strategic strength, there are a few ways you can build on your natural gift:


If you are anything like me, you might thrive on brainstorming, but try not to overwhelm people with a list of options.  Sometimes, when working in groups, people are looking for efficient and focused decision-making and would like to settle on a topic quickly instead of weighing all the possibilities. So if you catch wind of a project looming in the distance, it might be helpful for you to let your imagination run wild and spend time narrowing down your ideas before introducing them to a group.

Discover Patterns

If you have this strength you often have a knack for picking out patterns, whether it is recurring outcomes from a past experience or from observation. Indulge that natural tendency and look at the big picture more often. If you find that certain strategies succeed time and time again whereas others tend to fail, let that knowledge guide your decision making.


My family might call me a worrywart, but there have been times when I have been able to foresee problems and was ready to solve them before they even happened. Keep in mind that in the long run, strategic people are very efficient with their time, because they avoid pitfalls and wrong turns by looking at situations from multiple perspectives. Allow yourself to predict the possible challenges of a project, but don’t worry too much! Being stressed out can destroy your creativity and make you unproductive. You will need all those creative juices flowing to be an effective problem solver.

Boldly Declare A New Way

Some people get stuck in tradition and how things have always been before. Strategic people may be able to shed light on an alternative possibility that people have never considered. Although change and new ideas are often met with resistance, if you are a strategic person, odds are you have carefully weighed the pros and cons. Practice articulating your ideas to others and don’t hide the amount of consideration you have given them. Make sure to explain your reasoning. You are thorough and thoughtful, so believe in your ideas! Having faith in your ideas will persuade others to have faith in them too.

Read Emily’s other posts

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