Essential Creative, Leadership, and Critical Thinking skills in Today’s Leader

If you want to succeed in 21st Century business you need to become a critical thinker. Critical thinkers are nosey and look to find what and the why behind every proposition. Crisis can bring out the best critical thinking because it forces you to question how and why you ended up in trouble. I take advantage of the genders and cultures represented in today’s diverse management landscape. An Indian-trained engineer may not view a problem the way one raised in Minnesota will. Both may have the same problem-solving tool kit, but their different experiences can provide valuable insights.

Assumption-busting and harnessing multiple perspectives are deductive skills. Critical thinkers should also have a creative bent that allows them to see opportunities where others see obstacles. For example, a manager may see a production snag as a problem whereas a savvy thinker must view it as an opportunity to revamp the process to produce something new.

Managing ambiguity is one additional aspect of critical thinking that is vital to today’s leader. The speed of business, intertwined as it is with global factors and complex supply chains, dictates that you will never know all the variables. Therefore, you need to get comfortable with operating in an environment where change is constant and rapid decisions are required. In a world of growing uncertainty one thing is certain; we all need sharp critical thinkers who can size up the situation, realize the potential where others may not, and seize opportunities through prompt decision-making (Baldoni, January, 2010).

To me leadership means dealing with the demands of uncertainty and to take decisions hoping that other people will follow. Success in leadership does not come from role and title but from clear purpose, passion and self-awareness. Trust is hard to build and easy to lose in this era of social media tools where you are constantly exposed. Trust is the conviction that the leader means what he says. Mindfulness is the process of noticing new things which places you in the present allowing you to take advantage of opportunities and situations which results in no longer having people applying yesterday’s solutions to today’s challenges.

The principles of silence and giving others space and time to find their own answers are some of the practices I follow in personnel and professional life. According to Palmer (2009) silence brings not only little deaths but also little births, small awakenings to beauty, to vitality, to hope, to life. Silence is a form of communication that is cultural and context specific. Silence can be a turning point within a conversation. Such turning points can have positive and negative aspects, depending on how the participants use the silence.  Silence can be an opportunity for mediators to allow the participant’s time to reflect.

References

Baldoni, J. (January, 2010). How Leaders should think critically. Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2010/01/how-leaders-should-think-criti/

Palmer, P. (2009). A hidden wholeness: The journey toward an undivided life. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

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Importance of Critical Thinking to be a Creative Leader

My thought on critical thinking has not changed much from the first week of this course. I still believe stronger that play can build critical thinking skills. Critical thinking is an essential for research. It is essential for evaluating and understanding the implications of research. Critical thinking involves a continual questioning of the assumptions and is a way of evaluating a subject. It helps people solve problems by generating a good number of well-rounded ideas and critically deciding if they work or not. By using critical thinking skills to raise important questions about problems and state them as clear and precise as possible, you can gather and evaluate relevant information related to a topic as well as come to a well-reasoned conclusion about what it is. I have to use my critical thinking skills while I am conducting on-line research and it has helped me filter through web pages and figure out which ones contain actual, fact-based information and what are just filled with conjecture or made up stories that aren’t true.

Critical thinking is a must for all today’s leaders. To thrive in this turbulent world, Dr. Kalam argued that corporations as well as nations desperately needs creative leaders, who are a new breed of visionary and empathetic leaders who act less as commanders and more as coaches, less as managers and more as facilitators, and who foster self-respect rather that demanding respect. The leader must have the passion to transform vision into action, must be able to travel into an unexplored path and must know how to manage both success and failure. The leader must have the courage to make decisions and should have nobility in management. Every action of the leader should be transparent and must work with integrity and succeed with integrity (Radjou, July, 2009).

Reference

Radjou, N. (July, 2009). Why are creative leaders so rare. HBR Blog Network.

My Decision Making Thought Process

I totally agree with Gladwell (2005) that the quantity of information can have a profound effect on decision making. When we are immersed in too much information, we can sometimes miss the big picture or we can get deviated from the original problem. Like I said in my first blog in first week of this course, improvisation helps to increase leadership, collaboration, creativity, risk taking and intuition which are all essential qualities for leaders. Too much thinking can easily obstruct intuition, as can interfering thoughts, low-esteem and judgmental opinions.

Most of the decisions I make at work are evidence-based decisions, which requires me to compare two or more options. Research-based evidence may exist which measures how likely the outcomes are for each option. Understanding these numeric estimates improves risk perception and leads to better informed decision making. Since our life has become more dynamic and less structured, intuition gains more and more recognition as an essential decision making tool. Intuition can make you a much more effective decision maker, especially when you deal with non-standard situations or in expedient decision making. Decision making situations where intuitive approach helps me most in my job is when the circumstances leave me no time to go through complete rational analysis and a rapid response is needed. Intuitive approach also helps me when I have to deal with ambiguous, incomplete, or conflicting information.

Reference

Gladwell, M. (2005). Paul Van Riper’s big victory: Creating structure for spontaneity. In Blink: The power of thinking without thinking (pp. 136-141). New York City, NY: Little, Brown and Company.

Research Methods

In my work we mostly use surveys and sometimes observations. We send surveys out to all users of our systems to get feedback on how our system is working and recommendations/suggestions to improve the systems. Surveys must use careful wording in the questions to prevent confusion or bias. This method is very quick and efficient; however it is sometimes difficult to gain in-depth knowledge from a survey and there is no guarantee that the person taking the survey is being open and honest. Before a new system goes live we do a user acceptance testing and part of that participants are carefully observed in their natural setting without interference by our team Adams, Khan, Raeside and White (2007).

For Walmart, environmental sustainability has become an essential ingredient to doing business responsibly and successfully. As the world’s largest retailer, their actions have the potential to save their customers money and help ensure a better world for generations to come. At the same time, it sets the stage for a more financially stable and responsible Walmart. Their three aspirational goals are energy be supplied 100% by renewable energy, create zero waste, and sell products that sustain people and the environment. Walmart acknowledges the contribution of its employees and valued them as an important asset of the company. It is company philosophy to reward all the associates with a competitive compensation package. Apart from serving as an incentive program, it also assist the course of hiring and retaining workforce that in turn aid the company achieves its goal by serving its customers and remaining competitive in the retail industry Researchomatic (2012).

Researchers use many different methods for conducting research. Each method has advantages and disadvantages that make it suitable for certain situations and unsuitable for others. Bias is the distortion of results by a variable. Common types of bias include sampling bias, subject bias, and experimenter bias. Sampling bias occurs when the sample studied in an experiment does not correctly represent the population the researcher wants to draw conclusions about. Research subject’s expectations can affect and change the subject’s behavior, resulting in subject bias. Experimenter bias occurs when researchers’ preferences or expectations influence the outcome of their research. In these cases, researchers see what they want to see rather than what is actually there. A method called the double-blind procedure can help experimenters prevent this bias from occurring. In a double-blind procedure, neither the experimenter nor the subject knows which subjects come from the experimental group and which come from the control group Sparknotes (n.d.).

References

Adams, J., Khan, H., Raeside, R., & White, D. (2007). Primary data collection. In Research methods for graduate business and social science students (pp. 107-113). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications

Researchomatic. (2012). Wal-Mart Employee Compensation And Benefits Researchomatic. Retrieved from http://www.researchomatic.com/WalMart-Employee-Compensation-And-Benefits-111477.html

Sparknotes. (n.d.). Research Methods in Psychology, Retrieved from http://www.sparknotes.com/psychology/psych101/researchmethods/section3.rhtml

My experience with unimaginable source

I couldn’t be more grateful that it did watch this video part of OL615. Sometimes you’re drawn to exactly what your heart needs to hear. And this is exactly what my heart needed. It is tough week for me. I had hard time juggling between family, work, school work and social commitments. When I get really psyched out, I said to myself don’t be afraid, just do your job. I continued to show up to my piece of it. “Ole!” to me for having the sheer human love and stubbornness to keep showing up Gilbert (February, 2009).

As Gilbert (February, 2009) states that she had work or ideas come through her from a source that she honestly cannot identify. I had similar experiences where this unseen source ‘my angel’ saved mine, my kids and my husband’s life numerous times. It stopped me from making bigger mistakes in life and whenever I realize that I was saved or my family was saved again, I just look up and say thank you. When I am trying to think of how to code based on the requirements of the user/customer, there were lot occasions when it took me couple of day and sometimes week, for idea to come to me. When I think back on how I got that idea and I always felt like a loan to me from unimaginable source. It was hard to believe, in the first place, that this most extraordinary idea came from me.

References

Gilbert, E. (February, 2009) TedTalk: Elizabeth Gilbert: Your elusive creative genius.

My Approach to Leadership

As a leader, I choose the values and the ethics that are most important to me, the values and ethics I believe in and that define my character. I live them visibly every day at work. Living by my values is one of the most powerful tools available to me to help me lead and influence others. The best leadership is by influence. When followers know that you care, that you are competent, and you are consistent, the “loyalty” effect comes in to play.

Ethical leadership does impact employee relations. When supervisors were seen as less ethical, their employees feel less confident in their ability to resolve conflicts with peers. Further, employees lacking this confidence reported experiencing more conflicts with coworkers. Leaders who take ethical short- cuts may not only be compromising the local community through their behaviors they may be undermining their own efforts by destabilizing their organizations internally. In practice, consultants, coaches and other practitioners working within organizations should be on the lookout for these types of dynamics, and be prepared to discuss with leaders the possible unintended consequences of taking ethical short cuts.

I agree with Sutton’s article and his rules are still applicable to current work environments where creativity is a must. If you have talented employees then you should do something with it. If it’s creativity you want, you should encourage people to ignore and defy superiors and peers. You should reassign people who have settled into productive grooves in their jobs. And you should start rewarding failure, not just success. Creativity results from action. Creativity is a function of the quantity of work produced. Measuring whether people are doing something or nothing is one of the ways to assess the performance of people who do creative work Sutton (2002).

Reading this week on ethical issues certainly will help me in my work and in my future research if I have contact with human subjects. Now I know how important it is not to offer an ideology, or a big lie, to justify the use of any means to achieve the seemingly desirable, essential goal. In social psychology experiments, this tactic is known as the “cover story” because it is a cover-up for the procedures that follow, which might be challenged because they do not make sense on their own. Most nations rely on an ideology, typically, “threats to national security,” before going to war or to suppress dissident political opposition. When citizens fear that their national security is being threatened, they become willing to surrender their basic freedoms to a government that offers them that exchange. A good way to avoid crimes of obedience is to assert one’s personal authority and always take full responsibility for one’s actions Zimbardo (2007).

References

Sutton, R. (2002). Weird Rules of Creativity – Think You Manage Creativity? Here’s Why You’re Wrong .Retrieved from http://hbswk.hbs.edu/archive/2712.html

Zimbardo, P. G. (2007). Investigating social dynamics: Power, conformity and obedience. In The Lucifer effect: Understanding how good people turn evil (pp. 258-292). New York: Random House.

Literature Review Importance

The literature review is important to undertake because it describes how the proposed research is related to prior research in statistics. It discusses published information in a particular subject area. It shows the originality and relevance of my research problem. It justifies my proposed methodology. It demonstrates my preparedness to complete the research.

By the literature search and review on my research question, I will discover what related statistical knowledge exists. Increase my knowledge in my research area. Avoid duplicating results of other statisticians. Justify the relevance of my proposed research.

A literature review can be just a simple summary of the sources, but it usually has an organizational pattern and combines both summary and synthesis. A summary is a recap of the important information of the source, but a synthesis is a re-organization, or a reshuffling, of that information. It might give a new interpretation of old material or combine new with old interpretations. Or it might trace the intellectual progression of the field, including major debates. And depending on the situation, the literature review may evaluate the sources and advise the reader on the most pertinent or relevant University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (n.d.).

Reference

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. (n.d.). How to Write a Literature Review. [Online Tutorial]. Retrieved from http://writingcenter.unc.edu/handouts/literature-reviews/

Being a Leader in Disruptive Innovation

Christensen (2012) explains disruptive innovation, is a process by which a product or service takes root initially in simple applications at the bottom of a market and then relentlessly moves up market, eventually displacing established competitors. The term is used in business and technology literature to describe innovations that improve a product or service in ways that the market does not expect, typically first by designing for a different set of consumers in a new market and later by lowering prices in the existing market.

As companies tend to innovate faster than their customers’ needs evolve, most organizations eventually end up producing products or services that are actually too sophisticated, too expensive, and too complicated for many customers in their market. Companies pursue these “sustaining innovations” at the higher tiers of their markets because this is what has historically helped them succeed. By charging the highest prices to their most demanding and sophisticated customers at the top of the market, companies will achieve the greatest profitability.

However, by doing so, companies unwittingly open the door to “disruptive innovations” at the bottom of the market. An innovation that is disruptive allows a whole new population of consumers at the bottom of a market access to a product or service that was historically only accessible to consumers with a lot of money or a lot of skill Anthony (2008).

Behaviors that characterize innovative leaders are associational thinking, questioning, observing, networking and experimenting. In addition to these important idea-generating qualities, other skills are equally important when it comes to navigating the overall innovation process given the high level of ambiguity and uncertainty which is inherent when creating business breakthroughs Christensen (2008). Personal leadership competencies are essential for success in today’s environment. Creating or doing something radically new or different that produces a significant leap forward, boundary pushing, data- intuition integration, adaptive planning, savoring surprise.

Leaders who want to make a significant difference for themselves and their organizations need to embrace new skills in today’s increasingly disruptive competitive environment. While new behaviors are important, so are new mindsets. Leading disruptive innovation requires a new set of assumptions, many of which are based in a personal sense of humility– the recognition that we do not and cannot have all the answers, and that disruptive innovation is all about finding clarity through embracing uncertainty.

References

Anthony, S. (2008). How to spot disruptive innovation opportunities. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=fvwp&NR=1&v=KGzXWO_anLI

Christensen, C. (2008). Why some people are more innovative. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9JNtA_jRztQ&feature=related

Christensen, C. (2012). Disruptive innovation explained. Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qDrMAzCHFUU

Creativity

Creative persons differ from one another in a variety of ways, but in one respect they are unanimous: They all love what they do. It is not the hope of achieving fame or making money that drives them; rather, it is the opportunity to do the work that they enjoy doing. The process of discovery involved in creating something new appears to be one of the most enjoyable activities any human can be involved in. The conditions for flow in creativity are, the clarity of goals, knowing wow well one Is doing, balancing challenges and skills, merging of action and awareness, avoiding distractions, creativity as Autotelic experience, forgetting self, time, and surroundings Csikszentmihalyi (1996).

As McGuinness (n.d.) states a creative person is a person who creates things. You either create something or you don’t. Creative people create, by focusing on creative solutions to problems that stop most people in their tracks. No doubt there are plenty of factors that influence things along the way, but it’s hard to say definitively that any of them are the reason why creativity happens. What I have found is that every person has the genius of creativity within, it is simply different for each individual. Some people don’t believe this so their genius remains dormant until someone cares enough to drag it out of them.

I strongly agree I am a creative person and for me, creativity is simply the belief that I can do whatever I want to do. The whining combined with fear, insecurity and responsibility combined with hard work, results in the depressed and the blocked creativity.

References

Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1996). The flow of creativity. In Creativity (pp. 107-126). New York City, NY: HarperCollins.

McGuinness, M. (n.d.). Do You Worry That You’re ‘Just Not Creative’? Retrieved from http://lateralaction.com/articles/creative-block-im-not-creative/

Culture of Courage

Franklin D. Roosevelt cautioned Americans with these words “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” during the 1932 presidential election because he knew the power of fear to bring down an economy, to cripple a nation and to stifle the ingenuity needed to create better solutions in turbulent times. Creativity requires courage and in today’s competitive, accelerated and uncertain marketplace, creating a culture of courage that encourages employees to rise above their fears is vital to creating and sustaining competitive advantage Warrell (2014, March).

What surprised me most this week is the improve game. In this game by saying one word, they formed sentences and then a story and in this game listening is essential, as it is impossible to predict what the other person will say. Together, the players are creating something new that previously did not exist. We were working collaboratively and no one is trying to win, as the game’s point is to allow a new story creation to emerge from their collaborative effort Mohr (2011).

Words I think best describes creativity or a creative person are:

Artistic

Curious

Open minded

Complex

High energy levels

Risk taking

Emotional

Courage

Confident

References

Mohr, J. (2011). Improvising transformation: Leadership lessons from improvisational theater. In J. D. Barbour & G. R. Hickman (Eds.), Leadership for transformation (pp. 53-64). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.

Warrell, M. (2014, March). Great Leaders Build A Culture of Courage In A Climate Of Fear. Retrieved from http://www.forbes.com/sites/margiewarrell/2014/03/25/culture-of-courage/