Every Leader a Thought Leader


A Sampling of Wall Street Journal Headlines from the past week . . .

  • New Fears Jolt Credit Markets (March 6)
  • Housing, Bank Troubles Deepen (March 7)
  • Jobs Data Suggest U.S. Is in Recession (March 8)
  • Grim Reaper of Jobs Stalks the Street (March 11)

How do these affect your thinking first thing in the morning . . . as you head in to lead your company?

“As a man thinketh in his heart, so is he.” — Jewish Proverb

Leaders must be intentional about their thought life. Everything they DO is traceable to how they THINK.
Here’s the thinking path: THOUGHTS >> FEELINGS >> ACTIONS >> RESULTS
Our thoughts affect how we feel. How we feel shows up in our actions. Out of our actions come results.
Where are your thoughts right now? Do they tilt positive or negative?
I like the term used by Loehr and Schwartz in The Power of Full Engagement. They advocate “realistic optimism — a paradoxical notion that implies seeing the world as it is, but always working positively toward a desired outcome or solution.”
Let’s consider for a moment the three types of thinking a Leader engages in throughout the day.

  • Automatic Thinking – Acting automatically, with little thought. This is the processing of data, continuously. In. Out. Yes. No. Got it.
  • Rational Thinking – Evaluating, judging and acting according to what you know to be true. This is decision-making, problem-solving. Still, a daily activity.
  • Reflective Thinking – Questioning long-held assumptions, being curious and open to new perspectives that could lead to new approaches and actions.

When Leaders tell me, and I hear this often, that they have “no time to think,” they are speaking of this third, deepest level of Reflection. It indeed requires the most time. But it is also the most necessary for fresh insight, creativity, paradigm shifting and vision.
Michael Gelb, in How to Think Like Leonardo da Vinci, writes of the thought-provoking question he asked thousands of people —

“Where are you when you get your BEST ideas?”

The top responses included, “in the shower . . . resting in bed . . .walking in nature . . . listening to music.” “Almost no one,” writes Gelb, “claims to get their best ideas at work.”
So, four closing thoughts as you lead during these tumultuous times . . .

  • Guard your mind. Be careful what you feed it.
  • Back-track from results to thoughts. Are you getting the results you want? If not, examine the actions – feelings – thinking behind them.
  • Block out reflection time in your calendar. Schedule it, now. Start your thinking session with a question such as “what would it take for us to ______?”
  • Share these “thoughts” with your team.

I’d be interested to know what you’re thinking in this area.