Your Internal Wiring: Strategic, or Tactical?

I’ve been theorizing here at Connection Agent about how our internal “wiring” shapes our workstyle. I do believe that we all have a level of malleability – that is, we can learn new skills outside of our comfort zone. But I’m thinking that also have baked-in orientations, or preferences, that shape how we best work.

So far, we’ve looked at the following ideas on the workstyle spectrum:

Introversion – – vs  – – Extroversion

Me-working – – vs – – Team-working

Now let’s take a look at another (proposed) scale: Strategic thinking vs Tactical thinking

StrategicTactical Scale

Someone with a more Tactical orientation really just wants to get it done – their mindset is less on the big picture, and more on the short-term execution. They prefer to implement, not plan.

On the other hand, those with a Strategic orientation always tend to see the bigger picture – how the pieces fit into a larger plan, and how to go about the work with a longer-term blueprint.

This isn’t a matter of intelligence or performance. It’s simply an orientation. And someone with a strategic mindset who is stuck in a tactical job will quickly become dissatisfied – do you agree?

However, I confess to being a little bit torn on this scale, because I wonder if it shouldn’t be three fold: Tactical—-Strategic—-Visionary. Is visionary a workstyle? Or is it a leadership style? Not sure about that. I know that my mentality is very much on the visionary/strategic level – I can do implementation, but I prefer not to be in the weeds of details. Where do you see yourself?

So – do you think this a valid distinction as proposed, or should the labels be something different? I know there’s truth here, but I’m not entirely sure I’ve got the labels of the spectrum nailed accurately.

>> And just what is the purpose of this whole exercise, anyway? Actually, it is part of a big-picture approach I’m working on – how to help people find their best professional “fit” as far as job/role. I believe that we have wired orientations, and that by becoming aware of our preferred workstyles, we can make much more intelligent career choices. My vision is seeing thousands of people and companies doing far more effective work because they start with a “you-based business” approach.

About Steve Woodruff
Steve Woodruff is a blogger, a Connection Agent, and a consultant in the pharma/healthcare industry. He specializes in helping people and companies make mutually beneficial connections.

8 Responses to Your Internal Wiring: Strategic, or Tactical?

  1. What if you give this a vertical axis. Vision at top, practical at bottom. This creates quadrants that seem to work.

  2. vlbrown says:

    I’m pretty far down on the “Tactical” side of things, Give me a problem to solve; I will solve it.

    I remembered this just in time, recently, when I received a job offer (3-month contract) for a job that just didn’t feel right. After trying to understand why not (parts would have been a great fit), I realized it was the part where they said they wanted someone to build out the process, do the PR to all of the teams, and get buy-in across the company for using the new system.

    I’m a fan of consensus, but I’m not a sales person or a marketeer. I’m best at solving the problem you need solved, not at trying to convince you that this new whizzy process will solve all your problems and make toast too!

    And then I remembered part of my “performance review” from a previous job. My manager wrote:

    As a technical writer, communication is Vicki’s stock ion trade. She succeeds in communicating what is needed at the tactical level and is effective in gathering the information that she needs and communicating the results clearly. Vicki is not as effective as a strategic communicator, e.g. when selling an idea.

    Surprisingly, instead of then deciding that strategy was an Area for Improvement, he went on to suggest that over the next year we should concentrate on opportunities where my tactical skills would be best used.

    It was unexpectedly positive and helpful feedback.

    • That’s exactly the approach I advocate. Let people flourish in their strengths and don’t waste so much time trying to backfill weaknesses (esp. wiring-level weaknesses)

  3. vlbrown says:

    Steve – My OCD tech writer nature is screaming at me to ask you to please edit your diagram’s header to be: “Tactical / Strategic Orientation”, putting “Tactical” in the left and “Strategic” on the right, so they’re on the same sides as their directions on the diagram.


%d bloggers like this: