Leadership and the Art of Thinking

If everyone is thinking alike, then somebody isn’t thinking. – General George S. Patton

A story is told of a man who bought a new gadget- unassembled, of course, and after reading and rereading the instructions he couldn’t figure out how it went together. Finally, he sought the help of an old handyman who was working in the backyard.

The old fellow picked up the pieces, studied them, and then began assembling the gadget. In a short time, he had it put together. “That’s amazing,” said the man. “And you did it without even looking at the instructions!” “The fact is,” the old man said, “I can’t read, and when a fellow can’t read, he’s got to think.”

Thinking is essential to your leadership. You deal with dozens of decisions a day that require clear thought and sound judgment and you need to be able to make those decisions wisely. How you think is just as important as what you think. Here are six ways to think and lead with confidence.

Think inside the box for structure.

Structure is a discipline you need as a leader. Your team draws strength and stability from knowing you are leading with confidence and taking the organization in the right direction. Thinking inside the box helps to secure proper boundaries. These boundaries aren’t meant to restrict you but to give you direction. Think big thoughts and channel them in the right direction.

Think outside the box for creativity.

Thinking outside the box is where your creative juices are given permission to roam freely and be tested for reliability. Not every idea or thought you have outside the box will become reality but if you ever plan grow beyond your current state you need to get out of the box. Thinking outside the box grows your boundaries and expands your creativity. Don’t be afraid to grow your borders.

Think independently for confidence.

There should be regular times when you step away from the noise and clatter of the office and find time for thinking and reflecting in private. It’s during these times you gain clarity for your vision and new direction for your purpose. The credibility of your leadership is developed as you demonstrate sound thinking with reliable judgments. Develop this skill in quiet times and your voice will be a respected one in the challenging times.

Think collaboratively for the big picture.

Nothing will get creativity flowing more than collaborative brain-storming sessions with everyone at the table. When ideas are flowing out of a shared passion and commitment to success it builds morale and unity. As a leader you need and should want to know what others are thinking. The big picture becomes clearer when everyone has skin, as well as their thoughts, in the game. When you think together and work together you will succeed together.

Think short term for building success.

Short-term goals are simply the foundations and pillars of your long range plans. Rome wasn’t built in a day and neither will your goals and dreams. Your business plan contains the necessary ingredients and ideas for you to follow. Your short-term goals are simply measuring rods or benchmarks of your success. Thinking through and executing your short term goals are an essential part of reaching your future goals. Think short term but don’t be short-sighted.

Think long term for enduring success.

Your long term success is a product of right thinking in the short-term as well as for the long haul. It takes patience, dedication, and hard work to achieve those goals. Thinking through your goals and executing your plan will come in phases and each one will require different actions. Along the way you can evaluate where you are what adjustments you need to make. Thinking through both short term and long term goals will guide you through this process.

“Thoughts, like fleas,” said Stanislaw Lec, “jump from man to man. But they don’t bite everybody.” That’s why critical thinking is a discipline leaders must learn to develop. As you cultivate your thinking skills you can lead with greater confidence and skill.

What are you thinking?



© 2013 Doug Dickerson

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