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.
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.