Leaders who consistently think strategically automatically analyze and evaluate to form their judgments. Critical thinking is one of many different types of thinking essential for great strategic leadership. However, we mustn’t neglect the encouragement of critical thinking within our organizations. In its essence, critical thinking is the ability to observe the unbiased facts of a situation objectively to make the most effective and informed decision. Critical thinkers operate from a logical, long-term perspective when considering an issue, as opposed to merely focusing on short-term implications and side-effects. This mastery of data and circumstance makes critical thinkers not only understand and fully appreciate the reality of a situation but also see the hidden possibilities. It is this problem-solving ability that makes it vital to encourage critical thinking in all levels of your organization, not only senior management. Because critical thinkers are far more decisive and confident than non-critical thinkers, it follows that this is a desirable skill in a prospective employee, as well as a vital skill in any decision maker. Encouraging critical thinking can be achieved many ways.
Lead by Example
To cultivate any culture in your organization, it’s important to lead by example. Change occurs from the top down- and your employees look up to you as a model for their behavior. Since rapid change is the reality of every industry today, decisiveness in a great leader is a huge motivational factor for any employee.
Leave Emotion Out
Critical thinking requires a non-emotional approach. Unlike intuitive thinking that is based on a ‘gut’ feeling, critical thinking is based on the facts alone. Leaders engage in intuitive thinking in certain circumstances, but employees should be aware that their actions should be based on concrete facts.
Communicate the Benefits
By outlining a structured process for analysis and thought, your employees will see how they can save time, avoid unnecessary mistakes and hasty actions informed by jumping to the wrong conclusion. Since critical thinking involves gathering all data related to an issue and in-depth analysis, the solutions generated will be the best solution possible.
No matter what position an employee holds, the development of their logic and reason will have a positive impact on the organization as a whole. By practicing the evaluation of tangible and intangible aspects of any issue, and the implications of the course of action chosen, employees will not only feel more empowered but will also be determined to do a better job.