Leadership practices that encourage strategic thinking

Ellen F. Goldman (Department of Human and Organizational Learning, Graduate School of Education and Human Development, George Washington University, Washington, District of Columbia, USA)

Journal of Strategy and Management

ISSN: 1755-425X

Publication date: 17 February 2012



The purpose of this paper is to define and then investigate the incidence of organizational leadership practices that encourage a culture of strategic thinking.


Discussions with 400 US healthcare executives attending focused educational seminars identified 18 leadership practices that encourage strategic thinking and 117 participants in subsequent seminars completed a survey assessing their use of the practices. Central tendencies, patterns across high and low users, and demographic differences were analyzed.


The two most frequently used practices involved reactions to crises. Executives using most of the practices employed long time horizons and made investments in human resource development and organizational learning. Industry suppliers and those responsible for parts of organizations were more likely to formally develop subordinates' strategic thinking ability.

Research limitations/implications

While the study used a convenience sample with self‐ratings, it identified salient leadership practices for encouraging strategic thinking. This research should be expanded to other industries and countries. Case study methods would provide additional insight.

Practical implications

The findings support enhanced practitioner education regarding strategic thinking and provide practitioners with a place to start in looking for ways to enhance strategic thinking among individuals in their organizations.


The study fills a gap in the literature regarding specific ways in which organizational culture may impact strategic thinking in others. The study also provides a model for scholar‐practitioner inquiry, exemplifying practitioner involvement in methodology development and the interpretation of findings.



Goldman, E. (2012), "Leadership practices that encourage strategic thinking", Journal of Strategy and Management, Vol. 5 No. 1, pp. 25-40. https://doi.org/10.1108/17554251211200437

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Copyright © 2012, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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