More and more leaders are realizing their competitive edge lies with their talent. And with their talent, they realize the greatest opportunity for growth is to develop their critical thinking skills.
Leaders should create a safe environment for people to make mistakes and to admit thinking errors. If this isn’t accomplished, people may feel afraid of embarrassment, humiliation, and perhaps even loss of professional status.
Once people feel comfortable explaining their thinking process, the leader can coach them on their critical thinking. The leader’s first impulse will be to correct the direct report, provide the proper solution, and move on. Providing the solution and explaining the rationale rarely works to develop cognition; the successful leader will ask questions to encourage the direct report to exercise that brain muscle and develop better critical thinking strength. Some questions leaders may ask to coach for better critical thinking include:
- “How did you come to that conclusion?”
- “What are the facts that led you to that conclusion?”
- “What other options have you considered?”
- “What would happen next?”
- “Have you considered your bias?”
Empower your direct reports to learn from their mistakes and they will become successful critical thinkers.