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How important is strategic behavior?

First: what is strategic behavior? Taking a long-range approach to problem-solving. Create value by thinking systematically and further into the future. Use objective data to reach decisions. Look at issues from different angles: employees, clients, suppliers, society. Differentiate between urgent and important. Think in scenarios.

In my work with leadership teams, we often address the challenge between strategy and execution: how to strike the right balance between the two. Of course, having a great strategy has no value without great execution. But only focusing on execution is not advisable either. If you don’t know where you are going, you bite your own tail.

For the success of the organization, it’s critical to spend time on both. But not in equal parts! Sometimes we say in our workshops: spend four to ten days per year on strategy and divide the rest of your time between execution (the WHAT) and working with your people (the HOW). Of course, this is an oversimplification of reality. But it gives some guidance.

In my experience, business leaders that can change gears between a strategic approach and a laser sharp focus on disciplined execution, are most effective. If they combine this with a strong basis of trust with their key people, that’s when I see the magic happening for a business! I do. These leaders know what’s really going on with their people. This enables them to avoid certain negative things to happen.


So, three areas to focus on as business leader.


  1. Strategy
  2. Execution
  3. People



Now, back to strategy. It's important to understand that strategic thinking is not a gift from mother nature. Of course, some people are better at it then others. But it’s mostly a behavior that can be learned. Compare it with going to the gym. The first four sessions your body resists. It feels uncomfortable. Your body says: NO! Strategic thinking is similar! Your brain must get used to it! The good news is: you can train it.

We know from research that strategic behavior is the biggest differentiator for high performing business leaders. Strategy is even more important than other important behaviors such as communication, execution or empathy.


Where to begin?

Look in the mirror! You simply cannot allow yourself to be constantly overwhelmed by emails and back-to-back meetings. Next, learn to compartmentalize your time. Divide your time between Execution, People and Strategy. But remember, strategy does not have to be super time-consuming. However, it will not work if you’re constantly exhausted. So, 1: Start to carve out time for strategy. Then, 2: decide for yourself which actions you’re going to take to train your strategic muscles.


Hope this inspires.


Paul Donkers

Paul P.J. Donkers is a sought-after global business coach and management consultant. More about his work and projects can be found via and via

Paul and his partners work since decades with leaders to assist them create more value. If you want to have a confidential conversation, just reach out to us via This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

By Paul Donkers

"my purpose is to help improve strategy execution, to create high performing teams and coach for effective business leaders"

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