Monday, April 25, 2016

Five Mental Characteristics in Systems Thinking to Shape DIgital Leadership

Systems Thinking has to do with the ability to see the whole, and the relationships between parts within those whole.

Systems Thinking (ST) is the ability to navigate levels of abstraction or logic as an essential thinking skill. Most folks follow the conventional way of thinking, it is what they have always been taught and learned to do. But digital leaders need to understand things and circumstances in a more holistic way or think differently in order to clear the vision and navigate the uncharted water to lead digital transformation seamlessly. But how can they leverage Systems Thinking, what are specific mental characteristics in Systems Thinking to shape digital leadership effectiveness?

Cognitive skill: A systems view of the world, encompasses impacts and consequences of our thinking and actions. Interconnections and interdependencies are distinguished, wise choices and decisions are made. Solutions are also made from a much broader and encompassing view that is not possible in linear thinking. It is both detailed and holistic picture. A systems thinker solves each unforeseen problem as it arises. So as to avoid making repeated mistakes, digital leaders and professionals, today must then if they understand there are different opinions or they are making a mistake; go deeper into Systems Thinking to ask why they make these mistakes, why there are differences, and realign or reorient the thought process to dig into the root causes.

Optimism: Often silo thinking or binary thinking brings a cloudy, biased and negative view by pre-judging people's motives without actually analyzing through questioning or research, they demonstrate at least non-systemic thinking. Systems Thinking can bring an optimistic view via understanding the situation in a cohesive way. Optimism is an outward view to see the bright side of the things; being optimistic is the view look for the best, come with grit and learning attitude. Your behavior, the way you showcase your attitude and mood others to put on their thinking cap. An optimistic person is always looking for the best in any situation and expecting good things to happen. Optimism is the tendency to believe, expect or hope that things will turn out well. Leveraging ST would help a person to become more cautiously optimistic via deep understanding and holistic perspective.

Paradoxical Intelligence: Systems Thinking has to do with the ability to see the whole, and the relationships between parts within those wholes, and to grasp the complexity - deal with nonlinear questions that have the contingent and flexing answers as the conditions change. What is powerful about Systems Thinking is that it’s concerned with wholes changes of the scope, thereby engendering new action. Systems Thinking is part of the process of creating understanding and striking the right balance either making the strategy or problem-solving. Systems Thinking helps to discover the connectivity and common ground from the difference and dig into the paradoxical intelligence between seemly two separate views. And therefore, it advocates inclusiveness and embraces diverse PoVs. ST is also a set of tools that you can use - success comes from knowing when to apply which tool and when not to.

Empathy: Systems Thinking engenders new actions as part of the process of creating cross-disciplined understanding. Systems Thinking is about discovering the patterns and interconnectivity via understanding things from multifaceted perspectives. Hence, Systems Thinkers have better chance to gain empathy. Empathy is one of the most crucial elements in digital leadership effectiveness, due to complexity, ambiguity, and the paradox of the world we live in. It is the ability to think as if you were in the other party’s position, to gain an in-depth understanding of the thought processes behind each action and to win the hearts via mind connection based on the golden rules and profound insight. Empathy is the power of understanding and imaginatively entering into another person's feelings; or the intellectual identification with or vicarious experience of the feelings, thoughts, or attitudes of another. From leadership perception, if you can understand how people think, respond, and behave, what they desire and what their fears are, you are better armed to manage them in order to gain their support. Empathy is a very important soft skill that is frequently undervalued. It's not born to a leader, but it can be learned if you have an open mind with ST and humble attitude.

Judgmental Intelligence (JI): JI is both about doing the right things and doing them right, making sound judgment and bringing the wisdom to the workplace. Many people do wrong things, not because of ignorance, but because of poor judgment, due to the lack of comprehensive knowledge, bias, or preconceived notions. It is imperative to identify what causes manifestly intelligent people so frequently to make such poor decisions. The misjudgment is often caused by superficial thinking, lack of critical thinking, independent thinking, and Systems Thinking. Critical thinking means making clear, reasoned judgments. Making up your own mind, in other words. To think profoundly and avoid the trap of the superficial thinking, you have to really dig beneath the superficial layer, see around the corner and transcend the interdisciplinary knowledge, to understand others deeply or get to the heart of the matter; not just watch, but perceive; not just listen to what’s been said, but pay more attention to not being said. Not just follow others’ opinions blindly as a follower, but shape your own thought via learning and practicing. It is about applying ST in knowing both parts and the whole, content and context in order to make a sound judgment.

The business is complex, the world is complex, and leadership is complex, the future of leaders have to deal with opposing views, cultures, constraints and competition. By leveraging Systems Thinking, leadership can be perceived with both broader scope of the open system and in-depth understanding of its interconnectivity and interdependence. It should be based on the future trend, based on varying situation; based on what the system requires for its long-term sustenance. And the very goal is to leap leadership effectiveness and maturity.


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