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Critical Thinking, the No. 1 Leadership Element, Is Often Lacking

Critical thinking is the No. 1 requirement for successful leadership in the 21st century, but many current and emerging leaders lack this quality.

Business organizations must be prepared to do things differently if they expect different results, says Catherine J. Rezak, chairman and co-founder of Paradigm Learning, a firm that offers education and communication programs to companies around the world.

In a new white paper, “Developing Critical Thinking In Today’s Leaders: No Room For Old-School Leadership in the New Normal,” Rezak examines the concept and also outlines the importance of context as an adjunct to critical-thinking skills.

“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,” Rezak says.
In a nutshell, critical thinking is the ability to deal with the contradictions and problems of a tumultuous environment in a reasoned, purposeful, productive way.

Decisions are made using an approach, she says, that is fair, objective, accurate and based on information that is relevant to the situation.
“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,” she says.

Rezak goes on to say that 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.

Great critical leaders understand that context is of central importance. They understand the total organization and how the individual parts work together.

“The new generation of leaders needs to learn how to be discerning, how to think clearly and wisely, and how to be accountable for their impact on the business,” Rezak says.
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