How to Think Critically
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In Morgan Jones, The Thinker’s Toolkit: Powerful Techniques for Problem Solving, he shares 14 methods for thinking critically. Moreover, he points out how we can sometimes undermine our own success in thinking well, by rushing to conclusions.

As a leader it is imparative that when confronted with a challenge, situation, or opportunity, that we strategically invest the only resource we can not create more or – time – and engage the most important tool we have at our disposal – our mind.

A 2013 survey found employers ar emore interested in critical thinking ability and problem solving than a college major. Similarly a Gallup Survey found critical thinking was the most important skill learned in school.

These, and other studies are consistent with the notion that critical thinking matters, and for the effective leader critical thinking isn’t an option, it’s a requirement.

So then, how does one go about thinking critically?

The first and most obvious step is to conduct a personal SWOT Analysis. Once you’ve identified your Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities (for overcoming obstacles) and Threats, you are positioned to strategically plan to think critically.

In addition to the techniques shared in The Thinkers Toolkit, other methods include discovering how to ask simple yet effective questions. The simplest are the most obvious, “why and how?” Don’t underestimate the power these two one word questions invoke. Both of these questions ask for more information in a non-threatening, non-challenging way!

Put these two questions to the test today. Try this: When the next person asks your opinon on a matter, ask them “why did you want my opinion?” and listen closely to their response. Or when you next speak to someone who is obviously adept at their task, say the barista at your favorite coffee place; ask them how they know the difference between different grinds of coffee. Then sit back and prepare to be amazed.

Leaders are Readers!” (Tweet this)

Effective leaders interested in further developing their critical thinking skills must engage their mind at a higher level. The Critical Thinking Community site shares 9 simple strategies to help motivate an individual as a critical thinker.

Another, woefully under used resource is the Sudoku puzzle. It is interesting how often the solution to a nagging problem will appear, after setting it aside and focusing on something else for a time, then returning to the problem. In The Leader Mindset (The Sudoku Defense) the methodology for seeing the ‘bigger picture’ is discussed in some detail.

These are a few strategies the effective leader can implement today in order to become effective critical thinkers. So, if you know someone who is looking for a simple critical thinking resource, share this information with them and help them reach their leadership potential.
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Dr. Eugene Matthews