Wednesday, January 20, 2010

How Leaders Should Think Critically

Critical thinking is the purposeful and reflective judgement about what to believe or what to do in response to observations, experience, verbal or written expressions, or arguments.

Now, we always hear people complain university students don't have critical thinking skills. But what is it? And how do we get it. Do our country leaders have thinking skills? Would all our country's problem would be solved if this generation's leader's critical thinking skills is better? The fact is everyone says we must have the skill, but no one knows how or really want to.

Look at our yourselves, do you join co-curriculum? If you don't you're not going to get that skill. You're taking strategic management lecture? That's not enough. You think reading text book, doing presentations & do exams will ensure that you can manage a company or a country? Even if you do Arts &Culture, you need to have managerial & leadership roles to expose yourself to this skill. Don't get me wrong, if you're the director, stage manager & etc that's good you're leading people & making decisions as long you don't limit yourself to just dancing & acting. Unless, you want to be a professional dancer 0r singer, that's another story.

I found this blog post from the Harvard Business Review Blog, Read it and continue reading my comparison with Malaysia's current reality.
The post tells us how we can do critical thinking, They are:

Question assumptions

I see very little of this in Malaysia. It is our culture to follow the status quo, never go against it. Always follow the leader even if it's not the best thing to do. Critical thinking is often associated with criticizing. Which is not necessarily so. You're not trying to hurt some one's ego or reputation, we just want to do the right thing so we can reach or objective. But that is what Malaysians think. Unless we throw away this culture than it useless.

See potential

We see potential for the wrong reasons, most of it because of greed. Other times we don't see potential because of laziness. Imagine a friend in your club suggest a great idea, but because you see a lot of effort is needed, you say No to the idea because you're lazy.

Managing ambiguity

Many hard problems in life are ambiguous. Nothing in life is as easy as black & white. It requires knowledge & wisdom to navigate these issues. If you as a leader cannot have the skill to question the status quo, the calm mind to see issues objectively, how can you handle these ambiguous problems successfully?

Like leadership, critical thinking (which I think is a subset of leadership) cannot be learned by reading, only by doing. So be active in good student organizations.


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