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The Key to Sound Decision Making

Is it the shoes? It’s got to be the shoes. Do you remember this Nike commercial and catch phrase, in reference to Michael Jordan, master and summa cum lade of indoor flight? When you have someone that’s really good at what they do we usually wonder “What’s their secret to success?”

It's the same with business leaders, that seem to have consistent success. When it comes to leadership and decision-making there are many factors to consider, such as training, experience, capacity, desire, etc. However, I can guarantee you that a primary factor in their success is their ability to make sound decisions, or their ability to think critically. 

What is Critical Thought?
Critical thought can be defined as logical reasoning; the ability to evaluate the merits of an argument or opinion. A good decision maker possesses a high aptitude for logical reasoning and deduction. Decision making presupposes the author’s capacity for conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and evaluating information to make a precise assessment. A critical thinker draws upon a breadth of knowledge, listens for cues and clues from others and the environment to synthesize an educated opinion or decision.

Critical thinking refers to the quality of thought and includes the ability to consider differing perspectives to draw fair and accurate conclusions. Also, critical thinking requires the personal capacity for vision, innovation as well as its anti-thesis, practicality.

Openness, clarity, perspective, frame-of-reference, and customization are five significant factors that enhance the perception of products and services.
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In order to achieve and sustain a balance of complicated and often conflicting concepts decision makers must actively cultivate critical thought as a mode of being. Ultimately, it is mutual openness - a collaboration of perspectives – that yields sound decisions.

The Value of Critical Thought
An important leadership responsibility is to deal with complexity and to provide direction during times of uncertainty. Many times the complexity of issues and vastness of the impact may seem overwhelming, which is why we put our best eyes on the issue at hand. Like a computer with the ability to satisfactorily consider the human condition, we expect leadership to accurately assess the situation and to provide a most-likely outcome scenario as well as the steps that we must take to achieve the desired results. Leadership implies the application of our best minds and most appropriate skill sets.

Effective Leadership
The thought process must be critical to be effective. Thinking for thinking’s sake is insufficient and a waste of good meeting time. We can all pretend to be leaders by holding the requisite meeting; however, if the meeting content is awry then so too is the meeting’s output.

Many Boards of Directors use assessments to help choose the right CEO and self-assessments to ensure continued Board effectiveness; however, most other organizational committees are not required to use any type of assessment measures. Organizations are only as good as their leadership and the translation of their message into effective actions. When organizations take care to ensure that proper leadership is in place across all levels of the organization, organizational effectiveness is realized.