Why Critical Thinking is Important and how Leaders can Help Their Team Members Develop This Important Skill
In our work as an Executive Coaching Firm, we describe our focus as organization, communication, and accountability.
An integral part of any conversation assessing the current set of leadership skills nearly always turns to critical thinking. Entrepreneurs and executives nearly always point to that skill above others as a key indicator of a team member’s value and contribution.
What is Critical Thinking?
If you were to type ‘critical thinking’ into Google, the top hit defines it as an “…intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing and/or evaluating information …” And while that is all true, I would add that those who have and hone this skill, routinely and artfully weave qualitative and quantitative information into what becomes an organized method for consistently solving problems and getting things done.
One straightforward process description, names these steps: Evaluate, Assess, Categorize, and Reason. Having this type of defined structure is broad enough that any member of your leadership team could apply that outline to nearly any issue successfully applying logic, and reducing emotional response to deliver consistently well-thought decisions.
The hurdle many stumble upon is that classic discussions of critical thinking deliberately reduce and remove creativity and emotion, which is exactly what humans bring to the table.
Our motto at Leader’s Cut is: People + Process = Profit, which is to say that if one of those components is under performing the remaining element must increase in order for the formula to balance. For any one that was told you may not use Algebra in ‘real life’, I just snuck it in.
An astute leader with sharp critical thinking skills will demonstrate mastery in ‘process’, yet lack the empathy to evaluate the People part of the equation. To our way of thinking, Making the Cut as a Leader also means that in addition to Process discipline, great leaders never lose sight of the Core Values that define the People variable in the success equation.
Why Critical Thinking is Important in Business
Your business (or division) has a “way” of doing things that differentiates in the marketplace; many will either call this your ‘intellectual property’ or ‘secret sauce’. No matter the moniker, the fact remains that how you are doing what you’re doing to uniquely serve your customers matters in creating enduring success.
As we work with businesses to articulate their secret sauce, then memorialize the steps to deliver this amazing product/service to their client, what follows is creating a clear, concise path to Discover, Discuss, and Dissolve ‘problems’ that are ubiquitous to every business.
The alternative is that when issues (small and large) arise absent a routine to handle them, they fester, distract, magnify, and interrupt the business of business resulting in a swirl of non-productive time spent in either confusion, frustration, or both.
Practicing the Leader’s Cut Method to not only apply critical thinking to issues, but also include your core values (our process relies on the Ikigai), you will never lose sight of all elements of the success equation, thereby improving the durability of success (People + Process = Profit).
How Leaders Can Help Their Team Develop This Skill
Great leaders take time away from working IN the business in order to work ON the business. Establishing a clear vision, purpose, and passion, supported with powerful structure (secret sauce) and rooted firmly in your unique combination of core values is a foundation for your entire team to be Critical Thinkers that never lose sight of the human variable.
When everyone rows in the same direction your business moves swiftly through any season or cycle of business. And when you have a clear, simple, open process to surface issues, uncover ideas, hear suggestions, and consider alternatives, you role-model the hard skill of critical thinking that incorporates the soft skill of empathy by aligning all choices in values.
If you would like to know more about how the Leader’s Cut method can help you work ON the business while stepping away from being IN your business, then our first step is to schedule a Meet & Greet with Executive Coach, Ken Kilday.
These 15 minutes are an easy way to explore, learn, and decide if Leader’s Cut is the right fit to help you organize, communicate, and create a sense of accountability that leads to new heights of success.