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Think More Critically

By: John Baldoni

John Baldoni, author of The Leader’s Pocket Guide, offers “101 Indispensable Tools, Tips, and Techniques for any Situation.” In this issue of Executive Matters, we share with you Baldoni’s advice on how to think more critically.

He advocates in his book the following:

Question assumptions. Critical thinkers ask questions and look to find the what and the why behind every proposition. Often we question assumptions when things go wrong. Crisis can bring out the best critical thinking because it forces us to question how and why we ended up in trouble.

Adopt different perspectives. Take advantage of the diversity represented in today’s 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 provide valuable insights.

See potential. Breaking up assumptions 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, one executive may see a production snag as a problem whereas a savvy thinker may view it as an opportunity to revamp the process to produce something new.

There is one additional aspect of critical thinking that is vital to today’s leader: managing ambiguity. The speed of business, intertwined as it is with global factors and complex supply chains, dictates that you will never know all the variables. Therefore, you need to get comfortable with operating in an environment where change is constant and rapid decisions are required.

Baldoni concludes, “In a world of growing uncertainty one thing is certain: we will need sharp critical thinkers who can size up the situation, realize the potential where others may not, and seize opportunities through prompt decision making.”

Excerpted, with permission of the publisher, from The Leader’s Pocket Guide: 101 Indispensable Tools, Tips, and Technqiues for any Situation. Copyright 2012, John Baldoni. Published by American Management Association. For more information, visit www.amacombooks.org

About the Author(s)

John Baldoni

is an internationally recognized leadership educator, executive coach and speaks throughout North America and Europe. John is the author of more than a dozen books, including MOXIE: The Secret to Bold and Gutsy Leadership, Lead with Purpose, Lead Your Boss, and The Leader’s Pocket Guide. In 2014 Trust Across America named him to its list of top 100 most trustworthy business experts. Also in 2014 Global Gurus ranked John No. 11 on its list of global leadership experts. John has authored more than 500 leadership columns for a variety of online publications including Forbes, Harvard Business Review and Bloomberg Businessweek. John is chair of the leadership development practice of N2growth, a global leadership consultancy. His leadership resource website is www.johnbaldoni.com.