Thinking, Leading and Working to Succeed

There are books, Web sites, seminars and more — all full of wonderful tips to achieve in your career. Here are three quick, immediate tips to help you succeed.

Critical Thinking: Decisions are a constant in both our professional and personal life. We need to think about our thinking, be aware of what questions to ask, and of whom, and what answers we need to determine the best possible outcome. We need to ask ourselves: Are we in possession of all the information we need? All the information at hand? Are we carrying preconceived notions with us? Are we making assumptions? If yes, the idea is to determine why we have those biases and if they are relevant to the situation of which we are analyzing. Critical thinking is removing judgment and looking at the facts. It means utilizing our problem-solving skills and seeing all sides of the given problem or scenario for which we need a solution.

Steps to critical thinking

  • Determine the problem
  • Gather information from “both sides” by asking questions relevant to all outcomes you currently foresee (regarding cost, hours, necessary statistics, data, etc.)
  • Evaluate, dissect, analyze all available information (without bias)
  • From information at hand, determine other outcomes, scenarios or alternatives that may now be possible that were not first thought of; gather additional information if needed
  • Select the best possible solution to be implemented
  • Taking the time to make sure all information relevant is in your possession, as well as removing personal judgment, creates the opportunity for better decision-making and better environments.

    Leadership: Being a leader versus being a manager are two very different entities. The biggest differences are how people view them and who people are motivated by. And it isn’t always a title that determines who is a leader.

    Managers are paid to tell people what to do, to make sure tasks are completed, to ensure the job gets done. Leaders encourage people to meet their best potential, to be a part of a team to contribute to the goals ahead. They acknowledge and reward superior behavior, they say thank you and they understand that motivation and including others as part of team means more than checking things off of a task list.

    Leaders don’t “tell” people what to do — because “telling” never inspires. True leaders appeal to others, and make them “have to” be a part of the adventure of the tasks ahead. Leaders build trust, create optimism, and have ideas and visions. Sometimes they are the ones with the titles, but sometimes it is years of service, amount of knowledge, the charisma they possess or relationships they have with others that motivate people to follow, which allows them to lead.

    So in order to be a leader, get to know the people and what motivates them. Understand the company and what should be-and can be-accomplished to strengthen the environment. Margaret Thatcher once said, “Being a leader is like being a lady, if you have to go around telling people you are one, you aren’t.”

    Productive in whatever position: When it comes time for promotion, the best person gets the job. “Best” can include many things, but most definitely includes productivity. A good rule to follow — work like you’re already in the job you want. Several years ago, I worked with a young woman who didn’t like her current department or her current position. She wanted to be transferred into another area, which was highly competitive, for her dream job. When a position opened, she was tapped for it. Why? Because she was one of the best in a department that she didn’t even want to be in … imagine what her productivity would be once she was where she wanted. She would have never been promoted if she was lazy, unenthusiastic or unproductive. But she saw the bigger picture and knew to work as if she was already in her dream job.

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