How To Hire Strategic Thinkers — Not Just Order Takers

Good help is hard to find. You want people you can throw in the deep end on day one and can trust to make smart decisions and understand the context and impact of their choices. In other words, you want strategic thinkers. I work with hundreds of ad agencies every year, and they describe this as their No. 1 challenge. They can easily find great order takers, but these employees don’t know how to independently guide clients, which means the senior staff has to oversee everything. Some people have suggested that Millennials aren’t great strategic thinkers because they’ve never developed the ability to solve problems on their own. They had helicopter parents who overscheduled and over-orchestrated their lives, they were praised simply for participating, and they never developed real communication skills. But, however this happened, we have a glut of order takers who have trouble thinking strategically. The Brain Cocktail of a Strategic Thinker To hire independent, strategic thinkers, you first must understand what that means. Strategic thinkers have: Curiosity. They ask great questions, and they ask a lot of them. Patience. They don’t rush to an answer, but take their time gathering all the facts and talking to all the right people before coming to a conclusion. Big-picture thinking. They understand the context and long-term impact of their actions and are able to connect smaller decisions back to it. Confidence. They’re not afraid to take a stand and defend it. How to Spot the True Strategists It’s a challenge, but you can identify true strategic thinkers in the hiring process. Here are some steps you can take to weed out the order takers. Conduct professional assessments. This is not about personality, but ability, behavior, [...]

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