Strategic management skills refer to the set of skills necessary to visualize and plan for a company's future. These skills are critical to the growth and development of a company, particularly in periods of transition or uncertainty. The term encompasses a broad range of skills that may vary slightly based on industry and geography. Core skills, however, include analysis, visualization, planning and leadership. It is also important for strategic management professionals to be objective and to have strong critical thinking skills.
Outstanding strategic managers have the unique ability to see not only the big picture and the details, but also to understand how all of the details work together to create the big picture. This allows them to alter the details in such a way as to create the particular big picture they want. This correlation between detail and pattern is at the heart of important strategic management skills.
Analysis also is one of the most critical strategic management skills. Good strategy requires the ability to accurately assess existing conditions honestly and objectively. This includes analyzing the company's current place in the market, its capabilities, the strengths and weaknesses of competitors, the opinions buyers hold of the company and the abilities of the people working for the company. It also includes evaluating market trends and buyer habits to determine what the marketplace is likely to look like in the future.
Visualization is the ability to look at the analysis results and determine all the things the company could do and all the ways the company's future could look. Combining the strategic management skills of analysis and visualization results in an ability not only to see the options, but also to determine which is right for the company based on its goals and opportunities. This allows the strategist to set a specific goal or set of goals.
Planning is the skill that allows a strategist to figure out how to get to the goal she has set. It involves figuring out what labor and capital needs will arise, what changes in process and procedure are necessary and what each labor unit needs to do to move the company forward. This stage of strategy often results in a written plan that can be shared with stakeholders.
Leadership is often overlooked when discussing important strategic management skills. Leadership allows the strategist to think about how she will communicate the company's vision, goals and plans to employees, vendors and customers. This strength allows her to take into account people's natural fear of change and find ways to motivate stakeholders to buy in to the corporate strategy.