How Is Critical Thinking Related to Workplace Success?

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Critical thinking moves individuals and organizations forward. According to "Forbes," it's a leadership skill required by 90 percent of the most in-demand jobs created since 2010. The objective and rational nature of critical thinking empowers employees and managers to learn from mistakes, discover opportunities and overcome challenges to improve workplace success.


Critical thinking leads to innovative ideas that can be competitive and profitable. To succeed in business in the 21st century, you need to become a critical thinker, writes leadership consultant John Baldoni in his 2010 Harvard Business Review blog article entitled, “How Leaders Should Think Critically.” He says the ability to design new and better ways, or recognize opportunities where others see problems, comes from critical thinking. Employees and leaders who develop and practice their critical thinking skills are also better able to adapt to the unknown variables that come with a constantly changing marketplace and increasingly competitive business environment.


Critical thinkers can offer original ideas that spur discussion and strengthen teamwork. The best critical thinkers are more about doing things right rather than being right, says Dr. Stephen A. Quinn and Dr. Gary A. Williamson in their co-authored article, “Eight Habits of Effective Critical Thinkers.” This inclination to do things right strengthens teamwork as individual critical thinkers compare and contrast facts, analyses and ideas in order to find the best solutions and achieve goals on behalf of the organization.


Asking questions, reframing problems and challenging assumptions are part of a critical thinker’s learning process. Critical thinkers are constantly learning from a variety of sources about a variety of topics. Quinn and Williamson add these thinkers also recognize the value in having a lot of objective information available when it’s time to make decisions. Employees and managers who actively study are more up-to-date with facts and have more sources of information to bring to bear on a task that moves the organization forward.


Critical thinking employees and managers lead others with greater skill and direction. As a critical thinker, you’re able to take responsibility for your mistakes and learn from them. You’re able to honestly self-reflect in order to recognize where you can improve personally and professionally. Critical thinking skills empower you to see where your organization can improve regarding operations, customer satisfaction, employee engagement and daily workplace success.