Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Independent Thinking as Differentiator of Authentic Leadership

Cookie Cutting approach often fails in leadership development, because authenticity cannot be replicated.

Leadership is simple because it’s all about future and change. Leadership is complex because there are so many variables you have to leverage in identifying leadership authenticity and improving leadership effectiveness. If developing leadership is like growing a tree, then the root is the mindset. The deeper you can think, the more significant the leadership influence could be. Independent thinking is extremely important in the digital era in which information only clicks away, but the true insight has inundated with out of dated knowledge, and the real signal is mixed with a lot of noises. A leader without independent thinking is a lack of authenticity; a digital worker without independent thinking is a lack of creativity. Independent thinking is a differentiator of authentic leadership, but more specifically, how to think independently and innovatively?

Practicing the real critical thinking in shaping independent thinking ability: Generally speaking, critical thinking is to make objective reasoning in order to form a judgment. Critical thinking is one of the most important skills to learn for career and life. There is evidence that business professionals, managers/leaders who utilize critical thinking with an evidence-based approach to decision making do better than those that don't. Critical thinking indeed includes many thinking patterns, such as analytics, synthesis, deductive thinking, creative thinking, etc. And the anti-critical thinking symptoms include reflexive thinking, compliance, group thinking syndrome, half-brain thinking or even no thinking, etc. Learning Critical Thinking methods require the person to acknowledge their own biases and prejudices before considering the information. From a biological point of view, one could consider the effort of critical thinking as training your mind to seek reason, or to reframe its approach to a conundrum in a certain way, it is the combined thinking skills for analyzing, evaluating, and producing coherent argumentation.Therefore, practicing the real critical thinking continually is a prerequisite to being an independent thinker.

Applying Creative thinking to connect the dots and think differently: Creativity is the high level of the thinking process and has interconnectivity with other thought processes such as critical thinking. Often, a creative person is an independent thinker who can think “out of the box,” and break down silo or conventional wisdom. A digital leader or professional must find ways to stimulate creativity, breakdown convention thinking patterns, be original and be yourself; practice creativity via trying to put two totally different things together to make something new, be adventurous and explore new possibilities. Being an independent thinker with creativity, perhaps more often than not, involves some level of discomfort and interdisciplinary transcendence, it’s how unusual dots getting connected and innate ideas getting sparked, and it also allows you to appreciate others’ great ideas, but not just follow others blindly. Keep your energy flows freely and be mindful all the time.

Independent thinking is not silo thinking, leverage Systems Thinking (ST) to understand the connectivity of parts and the whole: Digital means hyperconnectivity, uncertainty, and ambiguity. Practicing independent thinking in the interdependent world should also leverage Systems Thinking. Everything has more than one side and you have to master them all, including assumptions. When trying to determine the macro environment and how the factors influence business strategy/plan one way or another, it is difficult to move away entirely from assumptions. What is powerful about Systems Thinking is that it’s concerned with wholes changes of the scope, thereby engendering new action systems as part of the process of creating cross-disciplined understanding. Hence, via leveraging ST, an independent thinker can also think and understand things in a more holistic way, not be extreme or binary sort of.

Either digital leaders or workers today must apply multi-intelligence properly and practice independent thinking all the time; it means to keep being yourself, practice real thinking, break down outdated rules or traditions, and improve leadership effectiveness and maturity.


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