Team Building Part 2 – Critical Thinking Skills and Openness to Change

Last week I began a multi-part series on building a skilled team. To recap: You must begin with a focus on yourself, by cultivating individual skills, also known as interpersonal skills. A huge part of interpersonal skills is the realization that you belong on a team. Check your ego at the door to broaden your horizons and open your mind to new opportunities, situations, and diverse cultures. 

This week we will learn about critical thinking and willingness to adapt while applying these skills to strengthen your role within a team. 

With all skills they must be practiced and consistently re-evaluated. You will have to make small changes along the way to achieve the final and optimal result. I think about flying jets in the Blue Angels; thousands of corrections went into the process to make us appear seamless as a team.

As a leader and a critical thinker, you must exhibit and demonstrate sound decision making and problem solving skills. But before we deep dive into the skills, we must first identify and understand the problem. And herein lies our first step in applying critical thinking.

Critical, or analytical, thinking is understanding the big picture. It is the process of reviewing, examining, comparing, and interpreting information. Here are the critical thinking steps to solve a problem:

Let’s go back to our example last week of constructing a home. You and your team recognize a structure that does not have a solid foundation (identify). In order for the structure to be sound, it must have a solid foundation to stand (understanding the problem).  Step 1 has been identified and understood. 

Now we move on to the next step in the process – devising a plan to solve the problem. Working with your team, talk through different scenarios with the goal of securing the foundation. Don’t forget to apply those interpersonal skills we talked about last week! Be adaptable and embrace each new idea that is put into play.

Once a plan has been established and agreed upon, the next step is to put it into action. Your job as a leader is to assign roles to each individual and ensure each element is complete to achieve the final result. 

Finally, reconvene with your team to evaluate results. Was the identified problem solved? What role did each team member play? What were the roadblocks along the way? Did the plan work? Was the final result achieved? What did you learn from the situation? How can it be improved? 

You may have to go back to Steps 2-4 numerous times throughout the process to achieve the final result: solving the problem. As a spectator, watching the Blue Angels fly gives the illusion that we look perfect all the time. No! We are actually off the whole time. We are just an experienced team who aren’t afraid to make constant corrections to look perfect! This is what crafting your interpersonal, critical and problem solving skills will do for you; they will take you to the next leadership level as you go from a “group”  to forming a cohesive and in-sync team. The key is the “we” not the “I”.

Check out this short video as I dive a little deeper into the 5 Dynamics of a critical team.