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The Center for Sales Strategy Blog

How to Improve Business Acumen

How to Improve Business Acumen

The most successful leaders understand business and are conceptual thinkers.

They naturally see the bigger picture of what is ahead and consider the cause and effect of their actions. Their natural curiosity leads them to be forward-thinking, taking chances to adapt to what is needed for future success.

With this ability, their analytical thinking affords them to make sound decisions and learn from mistakes made along the way.

Improve Your Business Acumen. Change Your Mindset

When this strength is intense, this big-picture mindset believes others see the vision as easily as they do and may get frustrated by those that lag behind in their thinking. They may also have a future vision but may have difficulty breaking it down into manageable pieces for others to follow. This is important to consider.

Business Acumen 101

They may be frustrated by managers on their team who struggle in this area. Why can’t these managers see the vision and adapt to it quickly? Although these managers may be talented in other areas of the business, they may not have the natural adaptability of thinking and may need help along the way to have a better understanding of what is expected.

The good news is you can help others improve in this area with a few small additions to your thought process. Here are a few strategies you can begin to implement:

  • Discuss your big-picture ideas often. Map out your vision and ask the thoughts of others about how to achieve success in these areas. People are more likely to buy into future ideas if they are involved in the planning process and have a clear understanding of what lies ahead.

  • Anticipate events for them. Those lacking this strength may live in the moment and not be forward-thinking. Help them plan ahead and map out the next steps. Creating a play-by-play with date expectations will allow for continuous progress updates and feel more manageable.

  • In areas where details and exactness matter, you may need to allow them to become an executor of your plan, not an implementor. Provide them with dates, priorities, and details, and let them get to work.

  • Regularly discuss action items and business priorities. If they are on target, let them know. If they are not on target, explain the direction you envision and the end goals you have in mind. After this conversation, ask what their next steps are to achieve success in this area. Hearing in their words what they plan to do, allows you to know if you are in alignment with each other.

  • You may want to institute a “stop light” decision-making system.

    - Green Light: Provide areas where they can make decisions on their own, without asking your thoughts. Empowering them to forge ahead in their judgments.

    - Yellow Light: Create scenarios that may need your opinions in the decision-making process.

    - Red Light: Provide areas where they must reach out to you before jumping the gun on decisions. Talking through the pros and cons with them to help them understand the impact of the choice being made.


Remember that business acumen is a natural strength and may come easier to you than others. Don’t let this frustrate you.

Try a few of these strategies and see how others respond. Most people want to do what is right but lack clear direction or understanding. Take a few minutes to map out your thinking and share that with others. They will grow, and so will you.

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Topics: business acumen