Critical thought should always precede action. Yet, it’s surprising how often business decisions are made without sufficient analysis of the objectives, options and potential consequences of those decisions. Having enough time for critical thought is a factor, especially when choices need to made quickly. But that doesn’t mean quick decisions will always result in failure. The right kind of preparation and training can help leaders think more critically - even when time is in short supply.
First, what is critical thinking? In our work, we define the critical thinking process as, “a leader’s ability and personal discipline to use a cogent, rational, reflective and evidence-based approach when analyzing, synthesizing and evaluating information to reach a conclusion or make a decision.”
To put it another way, a leader who displays genuine critical thinking ability keeps an open mind, tests assumptions and challenges beliefs to make stronger decisions.
How can leadership development and preparation help? Here are two initiatives that can assist leaders in building higher-level, decision-making skills:
The development of business acumen —a keen understanding of the “business of the business,” including its key strategic and financial drivers.
The development of strong leadership accountability —a comprehensive view of the leadership responsibilities demanded by today’s successful organizations and the skills to fulfill those accountabilities.
It’s a one-two combination that generates some powerful results.
Leaders who connect business drivers to their daily decisions and actions are more likely to contribute to financial metrics and strategic goals. They think in broad terms, beyond their narrowly focused silos, and show greater initiative and creativity in reaching their objectives.
By embracing the full range of their accountabilities, and using that view to make decisions, they inspire others and accelerate workforce alignment across all levels and departments.
Today’s big-picture thinking is about broadening business acumen and leadership accountabilities to help ensure decisions are made more critically—an approach that aligns organizational goals with personal growth and responsibilities.
See the impact of this development in our Business Acumen Anecdotes eBook.