How can we improve the Thinking Process for Business Leaders



Do we need to improve the Thinking Process?

Majority of people are expected to get paid for the quality of their thinking. And yet companies are unable to support business leaders with their thinking process.

Even MBA programs are poorly designed to teach new generations of leaders how to think. Management models being applied to the problems of this age are not generating efficient and effective solutions. We expect the conventional and linear approaches to problem-solving (simple algorithms built in Excel) to solve the large and complex issues.

According to Harvard Business Review only one in seven reaches the top, “We business leaders so like to believe that we can think well, but we don’t. Only one in seven reaches the top 10 percent of quality thinkers.” As the business environment becomes more volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous, future business leaders will increasingly ask for support and guidance with their thinking process. One of the essential parts of the leader’s learning agenda must be to improve their thinking process.

And, unfortunately, for the majority of business leaders, thinking has very little to do with logic, and it is mostly about emotions. When emotions take over, people get stuck, the efficiency of thinking process falls apart. Emotional Intelligence guru Daniel Goleman explains that “our brain’s decision-making center is directly connected to emotions, than to logic.” Decision making driven by emotions is bad news, even toxic.

According to Vector Consulting, a Mumbai-based management consulting firm “Conventional management is a misfit todayIn the past two decades, top management across the world is grappling with a different environment. The conventional theories of management are based on the assumption of a machine world, which can be predicted fairly well, with enough data. I think the conventional management approach of making a long-term forecast, converting it into a budget and driving down accountability with static targets and incentives is a misfit for managing in the so-called ‘VUCA world’”

What is Thinking?

According to Merriam Webster dictionary, it is the action of using one’s mind to produce thoughts.

Thinking can improve our existing energy and skills. It can enhance/improve it by attention and focus. In a VUCA world, best way to help people to improve their performance is to help them become better thinkers.

Doing this requires you to help others to think in new ways, in more effective and efficient ways. According to David Rock author of  Quiet Leadership, this means being solution oriented.

Solution-focused means only focusing on the way ahead: “Looking into the problem and reinforcing the brain circuits associated with the problem. Focusing on problem leads to blame, excuses and justifications. Focusing on the solution creates new energy. Choose how you will focus on the problem and solution. Have a clear structure thinking about thinking.

Can you teach others how to think?

Can you teach others how to think?

Can you teach your kids how to think?

What do you do on improving your team’s thinking skills?

You have the hardware- but how about the software running in the background? What software do you have? Horsepower for thinking is your IQ. It is the potential of the brain. Bu this potential also depends on the skill set of the driver. Do you believe that you are a good driver?

How do you get people to think? Can you teach it?

Can we come up with a simple and practical thinking process that anyone can apply? Can we come up with a Thinking Tool- a skill set where one can apply it anywhere?

The fact that you are thinking does not make you a good thinker. If you are a bad thinker, stuck in an emotional drama, and if you think all the time, you become an excellent bad thinker.

Framework for directing attention and focus

Here is a simple thinking process to direct your attention, focus and perspective.

You can use this model one at a time- it will help you to think critically. It will direct your attention. We have a habit of doing everything at the same time. This model will help you to focus on your thinking process.

The model helps us to think which gear you are thinking from. Allows you to actively choose another way to think. (This thinking model was developed based on the CTI Co-Active Coaching principles.)

  • Purpose driven Thinking: We reflect on our life purpose and values as we make our decisions. It allows us to have more meaning in life. It is about why and what. Why do you want to do this project? What are you trying to achieve? Have a clear vision. Know your goal and objective in any given conversation or project. Focusing only on the problems is a common problem in business. When you connect with your purpose and values, it is easier to bring out vision and big picture thinking.
  • Emotional Thinking: This one helps us understand our emotions, other’s emotions so that we proactively respond to the challenges. This place is where all other thinking perspectives have fallen apart and all that is left is an emotional charge. Sometimes people spend too much time in this emotional state.
  • Reflective Thinking: Too much focus on action and execution reduces the quality of our thinking. Reflective thinking is all about slowing down,being in the present time, and drawing connection between different perspectives. This is especially helpful when we are overloaded with information. Reflective thinking is also most helpful when most people get stuck in.
  • Focused Thinking: We learn to set our automatic self-referential responses , focus intently on what others saying and ultimately learn to hear what is not being said, as well. With focused thinking, mind is clear and observing. You simply listen.
  • Intuitive Thinking: This is our intuitive side. It is the little hunches or gut feelings we have about an issue. With this mind, we can feel each other’s emotions, and know what might be going on under the surface. Once we know where we are going, and how we are going to get there, we take action. It is simple. But we hardly have this level of clarity in life. Intuitive thinking brings out the observing mind,  focused mind and clarity. Planning or details are where people tend to naturally put their energy, unless they step back and think about how they are approaching what they are doing. This can not be done without intuition.
  • Curiosity Thinking (non-judgmental thinking): This is our curious side. We don’t assume anything. We don’t take sides. We ask simple and powerful questions. We challenge our assumptions. We hold the space of not knowing, staying open, listening, and being non-judgmental. This happens when we are open to the topic and compassionate with the people. This is a very important thinking mind for offering creative solutions to complex problems.


Want to know more about on this topics, more articles on “Leadership”, “Presence”,  and “Workplace Management”:


A Leader in Corporate Real Estate and Facilities Management, Evrim Ay is the author of “Sustainable Facilities Management” book. In this blog, he makes a strong business case and a compelling argument for “workplace management“, “wellness“, and “productivity“. He believes that the way we are working is no longer working

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