Critical Thinking: Leaders need to use it (and so do voters!)

Posted by Paradigm Learning on November 07, 2014

Critical Thinking

It was November 4 and voters were going to the polls. Coincidentally, just that morning I noted the issue of “critical thinking” was trending on leadership development sites.

Too bad the concept didn’t seem to be trending on election sites!

Unfortunately, it is all too common for voters today to think they have enough information to make decisions – decisions that will have a far-reaching impact on the country. And, worse, a lot of that information is based on TV ads that provide 15 and 30 second sound bites!

As Henry Ford once said, “Thinking is the hardest work there is ... which is probably why so few engage in it.”

In our practice, we work with many companies looking for ways to help leaders and managers develop critical thinking. Here’s how we define it:

Critical thinking is having the skills and the discipline to use a rational, reflective and open-minded approach when analyzing and evaluating information.

Discipline is especially critical. It’s easy to get caught up in being too busy to take the time necessary to seriously consider important decisions.

According to Kathy Pearson, PhD, a Wharton School professor, critical thinkers demonstrate “intellectual curiosity and a willingness to ask questions” along with a healthy dose of skepticism and an equal measure of good judgment.

The bottom line is that in today’s fast-paced business environment, there will never be enough time, but leaders still have to take enough time to think through — critically and strategically — important decisions and actions.

It would be nice if more voters employed that kind of discipline, too.

P.S. If you are interested in the concept of critical thinking, you may want to download a white paper by our Chairman, Catherine Rezak, Developing Critical Thinking in Today’s Leaders: No Room for Old-School Leadership Development in the New Normal.

Topics: Leadership Development