How do you measure the effectiveness of a leader? What habits make leaders effective? How do you know if your leader has effective thinking habits? What is your definition of a leader? What is your definition of a thinker?
Leadership is a very hot topic in this current political season. Whether we are discussing politics, business or religion it appears that more people are concerned with what makes a good leader. When we think of what makes a good leader, we often discuss leadership style and traits, but we rarely discuss or identify the habits of an effective leader-thinker.
If you ask most people to define leadership, they will say that leaders provide vision for their followers. This is partially correct. There are many definitions of leadership. We will define leadership as the ability to inspire, develop, grow and serve others. Given that definition, think of those who you consider to be leaders. Do they inspire, develop, grow and serve others around them? More importantly, how do they think? Do you believe that their thinking leads to effective decision-making?
A thinker is defined as one who reasons in a certain way or one who devotes much time to thought. As you reflect on the definitions of what makes one a leader and what makes one a thinker, consider whether or not your political, business or religious leaders are thinkers.
Below are the eight habits of highly effective leader-thinkers. Aristotle was quoted as saying “we are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.”
- Temporarily suspend ego, emotion and judgment. Ego says “I am right – you are wrong” Judgment limits options and emotion usually leads us in a harmful direction. Suspension of all three gets us better thinking results.
- Invite, encourage and include diversity. More ideas from more people allow greater possibilities to improve the situation or solve the problem.
- Go for speed and quantity . . . worry about quality later. We can reduce time and increase quantity of ideas using a few simple to learn skills.
- Do not censor your own ideas or those of others. Internal and external censorship reduce the quantity of ideas and limits diversity.
- Proactively listen for and find the connections, interconnections and patterns. If we don’t listen to others, we cannot learn from them.
- Avoid and creatively challenge assumptions. Assumptions lead us in the wrong direction, frustrate us, and waste time, effort and money!
- Use imagination freely. Do not own ideas . . . play with them and have fun! Thinking is a game! Play well and be good at it. Learn how to play with ideas!
- Practice trust and respect of others at all times. A free thinking zone is a place for trust and respect, not to abuse the freedom to think and express yourself by being rude or offensive to other people.
In your reading and examination of the above eight habits of highly effective leader-thinkers, it is hoped that these habits were used to measure the effectiveness of how current religious, business, political and community leaders think. Not only can you examine how those leaders think, you can also measure the effectiveness of your thinking as you are a leader of self.
© 2012, Dr. Terry Jackson. All rights reserved.