Leadership and Critical Thinking.

Essay by cindy51663University, Ph.D. January 2004

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Leadership and Critical Thinking

Examining the evolution of leadership demonstrates that leadership in today's world requires more than the ability to manipulate data and manage people. "To survive in the 21st century, we're going to need a new generation of leaders--leaders, not managers" (Bennis, 1999, p. 63). These two managerial functions are certainly aspects of the commonly held views of traditional leadership, but to survive in today's world, leaders cannot rely only on managerial skills. To develop strong leadership, leaders need to think about their role in a more holistic sense by shifting away from traditional paradigms of leadership and employing a learning attitude within their leadership role.

Holistic leadership requires using creative and critical thought as an agent of change. In the past 15 years, leadership has undergone tremendous change. The typical decision-making through the top-down corporate hierarchical structure has given way to organizational teams empowered with decision-making capabilities (Swenson, 2000).

Creativity and critical thought play a key role in successful leadership. As companies become larger and more diverse, necessity dictates that leadership be a shared activity.

Shifting the locus of control from a single individual to smaller groups of stakeholders ensures that the business will continue to expand and remain competitive. Senge (1990) said, "the organizations that will truly excel in the future will be the organizations that discover how to tap people's commitment and capacity to learn at all levels in an organization" (p. 4). Consider the world of competitive sports as an example of team members working toward a common goal. The coach plays the role of team leader and each player uses his strength for the success of the team. Good leaders know that leadership is dynamic; every new experience provides opportunities for reflection, learning, and change. In athletics, the team works as a whole...