Leadership is no longer defined by the position one is at in an organization. In fact, organizations see  leaders across the board. Each individual is important and is expected to bring not just optimal performance but a drive that makes her contribute effectively to the growth momentum of the organization as a whole.

Here is how some top executives define leadership in today’s world.

“Too many people view management as leadership. It’s not. Leadership comes from influence, and influence can come from anyone at any level and in any role. ” – Kurt Uhlir, CEO and co-founder, Sideqik

“Leadership is stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risk to create reward.” – Katie Easley, founder, Kate Ryan Design

Such a performance driven culture of leadership requires one to take calculated risks and make decisions often. Since these decisions are crucial for how the employee contributes positively to the organization – one cannot rely on intuitive decision making. It is ineffective and can be detrimental. An organized approach that involves critical thinking  helps the employee to ensure that best decisions are taken.

So what is it that distinguishes a Critical Thinking leader?

  • Critical thinkers think differently about their impact on the organization – understanding how their decisions and actions influence business both inside and outside their narrow functional silos. These leaders are able to balance department or team issues with broader company issues and embrace a larger responsibility for the success of the organization.
  • Leaders who engage in critical thinking also understand the total organization and how the individual parts work together. It is impossible to apply critical thinking skills to the business of making money without an understanding of the business drivers that connect day-to-day decisions and actions to key financial and strategic goals.
  • Critical thinking is big-picture thinking too. Critical thinkers operate from a broad perspective in order to make sure the correct problems are addressed and they are taking acceptable risk. They recognize the difference between short-term gains and sustainable, long-term results and lead accordingly.
  • Critical thinking enables leaders at every level to understand the impact of their decisions on the business as a whole and ensures both alignment with organizational goals and accountability for results.

Whatever position in the organization one may be in, he/she needs to strive passionately to translate the organization’s vision into reality with effective decision making. Organizations around the world are assessing for critical thinking skills in their employees across the world using Pearson’s leading assessment.

Critical thinking driven leadership is exactly the type of leadership behaviour demanded by the “new normal” – and exactly what’s missing. And this disconnect is likely to intensify over time.

To accelerate development and raise leadership accountability to a whole new level of awareness, there needs to be a renewed emphasis on critical thinking in the leadership development arena.

By Urmi Dasgupta