Articles tagged with: Critical Thinking

Do Your Critical Thinking Skills Set You Apart or Hold You Back?

Presented by Michelle Braden, CEO Posted in Webinars

Do Your Critical Thinking Skills Set You Apart or Hold You Back?

 

Critical Thinking is a crucial skill for leaders to possess if they are to be successful. This webinar will empower you with the information you need to evaluate your current critical thinking proficiencies, determine areas for improvement, and enhance your thinking skills. We will explore 3 areas: reasoning, self-knowledge and insight. We will also examine critical thinking strategies of successful leaders. You will learn thinking strategies that will boost your abilities in the cognitive domains that are crucial to being an outstanding leader.

 

Five Ways to Prevent Downward Spiral Thinking

Posted in Blog, All Posts

I was looking for a particular book for a client and during my search in my library of way too many books, I spotted the book Art of Possibilities. I read it several years ago and have often recited some of my key learnings to leaders that I thought could benefit from Ben Zander’s approach to leadership.

As I thumbed through the book, one of Zander’s key concepts caught my attention – the downward spiral. That was it – the “thing” that my client was caught in. We had been discussing for months possible solutions for a very specific issue. Although we had brainstormed several potential solutions, it seemed each of them had major flaws or “just wouldn’t work”. I realized the leader was in a constant downward spiral and I had joined him. In case you’re wondering exactly what I mean by downward spiral – it is that tendency to get caught up in “what’s wrong” and “why it’s wrong” conversations thus spiraling into negativity. And when you are in a negative spiral, possibility doesn’t exist.

So how do you stop the spiral and get unstuck? Here are five ways to avoid the downward spiral:

  • Recognize that you’re in a downward spiral. Some people don’t realize or not willing to admit that they are in a downward spiral. So a little self-awareness: if someone offers a potential solution, and you’re first thought or comment is how it will not work or the potential problems you already see, you could be in a downward spiral.
  • Stop the negative chatter in your head. When you think about a problem, examine the facts. What are the concrete facts? When we judge people’s intent, character, and abilities, facts can become distorted and overstated.
  • State the problem without assigning it to a person or particular group. Example: Joe and his team failed to meet their sales goal this month. Possible restatement: We had a sales goal of $____ and the month-end result was $____. In the first example, you can easily move into a downward spiral with a focus on Joe and the team. The second example, the facts speak for themselves and puts the emphasis on the goal. You want Joe and his team to make goal not spend energy and time trying to defend their character and abilities.
  • Have a “possibility” brainstorming session with the team. Give everyone a 2-3 day notice to come to the session with suggestions and ideas about how to resolve the problem. The key to the success of this approach is to take all ideas/suggestions without any discussion of their potential or viability. This will keep the ideas/suggestions coming and prevents those downward spiral conversations. Once you get all the possibilities listed, then you look at viability. Again, keep the conversation centered on how you could make it work. Don’t allow anyone to “shoot holes” into the ideas. Those holes will become evident if they exist during the process. Narrow the ideas/suggestions to the top 2-3 and create an action plan.
  • Once you create the action plan with the potential solutions, enroll people into the plan. A good way to create buy-in is to invite people to give frequent feedback on how the plan is going. Encourage them to speak-up if there is a need to “tweak” something.
  • Celebrate the successes along the way and continually ask for input on ways to improve the workplace.

Often leaders wait too long to address a problem or is only made aware of a problem when it has reached a near crisis. This creates a stressful environment for everyone. And a stressful environment creates downward spirals. Good leaders create environments that exudes, “We are in this together.” When leadership and associates work as a team in an environment of trust and individual value – the possibilities are endless.

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Making a space for thinking…

Written by Barbara Higgins Posted in Blog, All Posts

A manager who once told me that his goal for me was to find time for 20% open thinking time in my work day. At the time, I thought this was a silly concept considering I had so much to do and not enough time to do it. I was so busy with tasks that needed to get done. Coming from a strong work ethic background, it was actually hard for me to leave an open space in my schedule. I believed that being super busy was being the super employee. Clearly, this gift from my manager would take time and practice to understand and recognize the value.

A recent psychological study by UVA and Harvard found that people would rather be doing something – possibly even hurting themselves – than doing nothing or sitting alone with their thoughts. When faced with 6 to 15 minutes of time to think, many participants chose a mild electric shock rather than open time to think. “What is striking,” the investigators write, “is that simply being alone with their own thoughts for 15 minutes was apparently so aversive that it drove many participants to self-administer an electric shock…” – Wow! I guess this time to think is a common challenge!

Today’s technology devices allow us to fill every minute to be sure to get the most “productivity” out of our day. Instant, endless messages are sent at every moment of every day. The impact of this constant barrage of activity leaves us unable to quiet down often leading to exhaustion and insomnia. It becomes so uncomfortable to just be still.

I decided that taking time to think was a critical part of my wellness. I started with small steps. On the suggestion of a friend, I tried to pause to take a deep breath before opening the car door…easy right? Definitely No. I was miles down the road before I remembered my resolve… even after many attempts. Clearly this would be a long journey to change for me.

After much time and effort, I am pleased to say that I really enjoy open time to think. I had to try lots of different approaches to find a few that work for me…and I had to turn off the cell phone. Considering the research referenced, it’s no surprise that the focus on wellness continues to grow.

Personally, I am amazed at how the time to think can energize creativity. Creativity doesn’t just take the form of some amazing idea. For me, creativity fills the space with options to do things differently. Many creative ideas have been tossed aside but some have made a real difference in finding a better way to accomplish a task, partner with a co-worker, or solve a problem.

So what have I learned about the value of taking time to think? I’m happier and more creative. I have more patience for great conversations and future possibilities. I don’t really know when I lost my skills for enjoying thinking time, but I’m even more appreciative now that I have it back. My wish for you is some wonderful and enjoyable time to think…with no electric shocks. 

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Connecting Leadership & Strategy

Written by Barbara Higgins Posted in Webinars, All Posts

Have you ever asked someone about their job and they light up with a sparkling description of how they make a difference and apply true passion to their organization? If you have, you recognize the magic in matching the right person to the right job in the right organization and connecting them to the mission and strategy. When you think about iconic organizations they create a brand that incorporates their strategy and permeates their organization to empower employees. Their mission tells who they are and creates a culture to attract employees who thrive and contribute to their strategy. Although this elegant, simple message seems effortless, it takes very real time and planning to create this clarity and engagement. This webinar will discuss real working techniques to create that kind of energy in your organization and how this can impact organizational success.

 

 

Strategy to Succeed: a practical guide to being a strategic leader

Written by Barbara Higgins Posted in White Papers, All Posts

 

A leader without a plan or a plan without a leader simply won’t succeed. Great leaders match their passion for a future vision with the confidence and credibility that comes from strategic planning, in order to achieve that vision. To be successful in the long-term, your organization must have quality leadership and actionable strategy. So how do you help your organization define and manage an effective strategy? In this whitepaper, Barbara Higgins will provide you with practical ways to assess your organization, enhance your approach, and energize your role.

 

Strategy to Succeed

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