Vital thinking skills for top people
July 5, 2011 Nancy Slessenger This entry was posted in Brain, Change management, Emotional Intelligence, Improving Performance, Leaderhip skills, Management Skills, Stress and tagged Brain, change, leadership skills, smart goals, SMART Objectives, thinking skills. Bookmark the permalink.
Do you watch tennis? If you do, you may be familiar with John McEnroe, who used to be the bad boy of tennis with his famous line “You cannot be serious!” Which he used whenever a judgement went against him.
These days he has calmed down a bit and makes an insightful and interesting commentator.
As I watched Andy Murray win his match at Wimbledon, McEnroe commented at one point that the mark of a really good player was someone who was cool-headed enough to be able to change their strategy when things got really tough.
When things are tough
This is a vital point. When things are not going your way and you are feeling threatened or frightened, long-term thinking is much more difficult than usual. This is because your brain likes to focus on you immediate survival in these situations.
So you tend to respond with knee-jerk reactions instead of being proactive. You see new information as a threat and can be blind to opportunities.
Managing difficult change
During a workshop with a publicity department on managing change years ago, I described these responses to them in serious tones. The more serious I got, the more they laughed. I asked them what was so funny. “You’ve just described our senior management team perfectly.” Responded the director.
A vital skill for senior managers
More than ever, this skill is something that senior managers need to have. Sadly, the evidence is that many of them don’t have it. You can tell if you see your company lurching from one crisis to another, making the same mistakes time and time again, with the directors making short-term decisions and reacting instead of taking control.
The prognosis for companies with directors lacking these crucial skills is not good.
A good place to start
Keep the senior team focussed on the long-term goals and objectives. Just like all the other objectives, these still need to be SMART. Keeping your eye on these can help, but you also need people with the crucial skill of being able to set goals and objectives when they are under threat.
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