by: Anne Warfield
IQ is your intelligence-your ability to capture information and store it in your brain and then extract it when needed. But all of us have run in to people that are highly intelligent but that lack common sense. So if you are looking for a great leader what are the essential ingredients that make a great leader? What makes one stand out? Why do some people do great at one level of a job but when you promote them they struggle?
In order to grow great leaders you need to understand the difference knowledge and critical thinking play in HOW a leader makes decisions. Knowledge is based on learning or experiences that you then anchor in your mind and can extract when you need to apply it. This is great and can really get you promoted in a company fast. The problem comes when you become faced with situations you have never experienced before. How do you make good decisions then? What do you base it on when you can’t anchor it to any experience you have ever had?
This is where in many companies things fall apart. All of a sudden Joe that was a great foreman is struggling as an Operations Manager. In unknown situations it becomes far more important that you make decisions based on Critical Thinking skills, not knowledge. Critical Thinking skills help you determine what the correct assumptions are, what the root of the problem is and creates a more strategical way of looking at things. Outcome Thinking is all about how you critical think about situations so you can be more strategic and transformational versus tactical and transactional. I find way too many leaders are tactical in how they approach problems or situations and they base the rational of their thinking on the knowledge they have today. This limits their ability to really LISTEN so they can uncover what is not being thought or talked about.
A tactical leader when asked to put together a presentation on an expansion will pull together the cost of the expansion, why we are doing the expansion and what are the steps for the expansion. A strategical leader will pull together a presentation that shares what problem we are trying to solve, how the expansion will help solve this problem, what are the pros and cons of the expansion (what is it NOT addressing), what the cost will be and how it will fit in to the overall company mission. A tactical leader will try to make the expansion fit the budget. A strategical leader will ask how the expansion will solve the problem and then what cost it needs to be to work long-term. A strategical leader is not afraid to say we are thinking too small. A tactical leader wants the steps to the thinking.
If your organization is weighted down with people delivering “book report” presentations, people looking for strategy to come from the senior management, people misexecuting on corporate initiatives (which means they didn’t understand the message at a strategic level) then you are most likely creating more tactical versus strategic leaders.
In today’s world where you need to move at a fast pace you need to have leaders that can be critical thinkers at multiple levels in your organization. Without that you will end up creating more and more “rules” for people to make decisions by rather than systems that allow people to achieve excellence as a base.