Book Review: Leading with strategic thinking

Authors: Aaron K. Olson and B. Keith Simerson

Publisher: John Wiley & Sons

Reviewer: Alex Ryan, marketing manager, Paladone


While headlined with two subjects that could easily be treated separately and quite certainly deserve (and have been regularly given) the lead role in other books, Leading with strategic thinking, through thoroughly researched examples and well placed analogies, brings clarity to its title along with actionable and useful insight and tips.

In its early chapters the book gives the reader opportunity for self-reflection and analysis, helping to place them in a leadership category (based on their current behaviour) and then giving ideas as to what kind of leader they might like to be if they could change the way they behave. This allows you to continue reading with certain bias, ensuring you take from the book exactly what you need and, perhaps, dedicating less time to the less relevant passages.

The book sets the scene well by clarifying the issues it will attempt to handle, helping to forge its path clearly in your mind before you even begin the journey. For example, early on the differences between strategic thinking and strategic planning are laid out, giving you a chance to absorb the concept before it’s tackled in greater depth later in the book.

Not only does the book provide valuable insight into the kind of leader you are and the kind of leader you might like to be, but, from the very first chapters, gives you many ideas as to how you can take immediate action within your day-to-day schedule. This includes how you begin your planning, the way you think about your projects, the way you conduct your meetings and the way you talk to/behave around other members of staff.

The books also offers fascinating insight into the way your superiors, peers and subordinates may perceive your actions and suggest ways in which you can change your behaviour to alter those perceptions.

The ‘practical guide to…’ element of the book is highlighted early on. The author’s note that while it is possible to read the book ‘from A to Z’, it can just as easily be used as a reference book, picking and choosing chapters as and when they apply.

Leading with strategic thinking is a fantastic place to start if you have an interest in bettering the way you behave and think (and strategise) as a leader, if you are looking for inspiration for bringing psychological or behavioural ideas to your business, or simply if you’re keen to understand more about yourself and where your actions might take you.

Star Rating: 4/5