As we are now living in a world characterized as a "new normal," nothing is more important than leaders who are adept at critical thinking enabling them to enhance their businesses by making judicious decisions while remaining sensitive to the needs of their employees. When talking about critical thinking, often neglected is the descriptor "critical." Among other things, "critical" means significant, vital, essential, and analytical, and involving skillful judgment as to truth and merit. From the point of view of commonsense, "critical" may also imply an effort to see a problem or situation clearly and truthfully in order to make fair judgments and wise decisions. Thus, critical thinking is more than learning to use specific thinking skills deemed necessary for business and everyday life. A critical thinker will have a sense of ethics governing his or her decision making and business acumen. Consequently, critical thinking necessitates life-long learning, experience, developing one's intuitions, and above all, being creative, flexible-minded, sensitive to one's environment, as well as being trusted and fair-minded. The ethical overtones of becoming a critical thinker are obvious making critical thinking and essential component of values-based leadership.
A Critical Thinking Mindset
Catherine J. Rezak comments,The mind-set that made leaders successful in the past probably won't ensure success in the future. In fact, several recent studies and surveys have identified critical thinking as the number one requirement for successful leadership in the 21st century. Yet there is mounting evidence that many current and emerging leaders lack this quality. And it is this competency gap that is shaking up and reshaping leadership as we have come to know it. (1)
We can conclude that critical thinking is a necessary for business success as it focuses on a skill set that builds on the intrinsic and learned strengths of values-based leaders. Values-based leaders understand each person as unique with particular strengths that are of value and must be respected; therefore, building upon their talents and abilities rather than weaknesses is a positive feature of the working environment.
Keeping this in mind, John Baldoni (2) moves this discussion by providing clues to the critical thinking mindset. He adeptly points out that "critical thinking" is a way of thinking involving:
Questioning Assumptions. Critical thinkers are inquisitive and look to find the what and the why behind every proposition. We saw the need for this when our financial markets melted in 2008. Crisis can bring out the best critical thinking because it forces you to question how and why you ended up in trouble.
Adopting Different Perspectives. Critical thinkers respect and take advantage of the diversity represented in today's diverse management landscape. An Indian-trained engineer may not view a problem the way one raised in Iowa will. Both may have the same problem-solving tool kit, but their different experiences can provide valuable insights.
Seeing Potential. 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,...