Critical Thinking: Three Leadership Skills Examples For Great Decisions

Here are three leadership skills examples you can use to effectively approach problem-solving and make better decisions.

Above all, it’s about critical thinking.

Question: Who is one of the most critical thinkers of all time?

Yup, It’s Albert Einstein. And there he is wearing an up-to-date sweater to compliment his great hairstyle.

Most importantly, he would say that todays’ work world, as we know it, has constant challenges and obstacles.

Further, he would ask you the following question. Do you find the previous statement exhilarating or exhausting?

Moreover, most leaders respond by saying, it’s a combination of both. However, the majority of business executives claim to be more exhausted than exhilarated.

Therefore, it’s important to decide which area to focus on. Exhilarating will keep you wide awake and on your toes. Exhausting makes you close your eyes for an early bedtime.

The mindset for critial thinking is curiosity.

In either case, there will be stress, so pick the way that will yield the best long-term results.

Above all, what can make you love unknown challenges more than resolving familiar conflicts? What can make you think like Einstein?

The answer is to deepen your critical thinking.

In other words, the most effective leaders are those who become adept at critical thinking. This leadership skill is definitely vital right now. It’s the way to prepare today’s leaders for tomorrow’s challenges.

What is at the core of critical thinking?

Most importantly, what is critical thinking?

For example, here are the leadership skills examples seen as prized attributes of high-quality leaders:

1. It requires the ability to question assumptions.

2. It means you need to look from multiple perspectives.

3. It also requires the ability to weigh options and analyze alternatives.

To clarify, a 2020 survey conducted by Dale Carnegie Training across 20 countries. It confirmed that critical thinking is among the top skills we need to succeed in a complex work environment.

In addition, critical thinking is an essential skill that activates team collaboration and speeds innovation. It’s important now more than ever.

Critical thinking: Do you solve puzzles or problems?

The difference between solving a puzzle and solving a problem is vast.

For example, solving a puzzle usually comes with a picture of the finished product. You get a snapshot of the successful completion to get to your goal.

To clarify, you may have hundreds of small pieces to put together that will end up as The Sistine Chapel in Rome. You hunt and find what fits in place knowing what you will get as an outcome. It will be the Chapel. Certainly not a herd of animals roaming in the forest.

You follow the design and you get a win.

In other words, good concentration and a solid memory, assure you of what you get.

Therefore, puzzles can only end up with one result. All the pieces fit into their specific slots.

Solving a problem is more complex than completing a puzzle.

Most importantly, the solution to problems may be very different from what you anticipate. The route to problem-solving can be ambiguous and frustrating.

Problems often have multiple solutions. Thus, the question is: how do you pick the best way to move forward?

Use what you learned from doing puzzles — good concentration and good memory.

Next, you take the time to weigh options and analyze alternatives.

As a result, a leader with critical thinking skills understands logical connections between ideas, their relevance, and the inconsistencies in reasoning. It is only then that you can make the best decisions possible.

Here are three major leadership skills examples to build a strong foundation for making effective decisions..

1. Gather the data first

During the past few decades, the focus for leadership skills has been on quantitative over qualitative. Thus, the art and craft of questioning assumptions have become weak.

It appears that the easy path to problem-solving has been based solely on numbers.

Numbers are at the foundation of making good decisions. There is more to include here.

For instance, we know that access to information and statistics is easier to gather than ever before. However, evaluating the reliability of the information is more difficult.

Thus, critical thinking means including both history and trends along with the numbers. You need to go back as far as possible and get the raw information.

2. Dont let anxiety derail critical thinking

Too often there is pressure to just make a decision, any decision. This is the emotional trap that causes most leaders to say yes to a solution before all the research is completed.

Any decision will do to alleviate stress and anxiety.

Moreover, while this will feel good momentarily, it is often the death knell for the right results.

Critical thinkers learn how to sustain the pressure until the desired solution is clear.

3. Check your assumptions

You know the old saying “If you don’t check your assumptions it will make an ass out of you and me.”

Therefore, ask and then ask and then, if you must ask once again. Left unchecked, assumptions lead to the blame game, finger-pointing, and dreadful decisions.

The big leadership skill needed here is good communication and how to ask without causing defensiveness.

Remember to think critically

Here’s an idea. Put some posters that say “THINK CRITICALLY” around your office (or on your computer) that are reminders to look beyond the first and easiest decision. Critical thinking is what will separate the winners from the losers in the world of work moving forward.

In conclusion, a big part of critical thinking is how to think systemically and then communicate effectively. In Chapter two of my book, Don’t Bring It To Work there is a full description of how to connect the parts of a situation to see the larger picture.

This is not as easy as seeing the end result of doing a puzzle even before you begin. However, the best leaders are those who can think beyond the obvious and beyond short-term gains.

Along with my book may I suggest one written by anthropologist and social scientist, Gregory Bateson. In this book, Steps to an Ecology of Mind. He has a series of ‘metalogues’ that take the form of conversations with his daughter and renowned psychologist, Mary Catherine Bateson. It is a primer for critical thinking. And know that as you think deeper and have a strong vision, even obstacles will turn into pathways for success.

Keep going and keep growing,


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Sylvia Lafair

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