As I am driving to the office, the radio is chattering away, getting my attention whenever there is an updated traffic report. I have to concentrate on the traffic around me, since it seems half the people only wake up in their cars mid-way to their destination. In between all this, the news reader grabs my attention with an interesting story. I walk into my office, followed almost immediately by my project manager. There is a problem with the project she is working on. She turned to me to assist with some guidance on how to solve the problem. I am drawing a blank. I find it momentarily difficult to focus my thoughts on the issue at hand. I postpone the brainstorming session to find possible solutions with half and hour. I just need to get focused. I realized all the noise on my way to the office, cluttered my thoughts. In my thinking I reacted to the stimulus bombarding me and when I needed to focus my thoughts, there was just too much clutter.
The Problem with Reactive Thinking and the Impact on Leadership Effectiveness
We are a society bombarded with outside, often unimportant stimuli. This causes the problem of reactive thinking. When your mind is constantly peppered with noise, your thoughts start to passively follow, jumping around in line with what you hear. We therefore spend our time in reactive thinking, rather than intentional thinking.
"The key to leadership effectiveness lies in the cultivating of effective thought processes by leaders."
Our minds get totally cluttered with urgent but unimportant outside stimuli. This leaves us with very little capacity to intentionally guide our thoughts towards coming up with solutions and thinking creatively. The result is a loss in leadership effectiveness. It doesn’t mean you aren’t actively and consciously thinking. It just means the environmental stimuli and not you, guides your thoughts.
Intentional Thinking Leads to Leadership Effectiveness
The key to leadership effectiveness lies in cultivating effective thought processes. One element of creating effective thought processes is practicing intentional thinking. Intentional thinking is the discipline leaders engage in when they actively direct their thoughts to come up with a solution to a problem or to answer higher order life question. Intentional thinking focuses on getting some distance from the noise.
The Scope of Intentional Thinking and Increasing Leadership Effectiveness
The scope of intentional thinking is determined by the questions leaders try answer. The human brain is programmed to find answers to questions and solutions to problems. The quality of questions you feed your brain will determine the quality of intentional thinking you will do. Make sure you keep your mind busy with tough, higher order life questions like:
- “What is the impact of my Leadership style on my team and the general motivation amongst the people?”
- “What is the impact of my default reaction to problems on the morale of the team I am leading?”
- “Do I add real value through my presence as a Leader?”
The Higher Level Issues Leaders Think Upon.
Higher level issues deal with what it means to be human and the evolution in our humanity. This is thoughts about the long-range future of our society. It deals with our humanity and where we are headed. Within this scope the Leader exercise the discipline of intentional thinking to create distance from the noise of the overflow of stimulus available. This distance helps the leader to get a fresh perspective on the environment and to make better thought through decisions. What distracts your thoughts? Do you expose yourself to unnecessary mind clutter?