Required Skills for Developing Leaders
Analytical skills and critical thinking are crucial to business performance. However, according to the updated UK Commission for Employment and Skills’ ‘Employer Skills Survey 2015: UK Results (Amended 2018)’ :
- Managers are lacking in analytical skills
- 55% of managers are deemed to be not proficient in solving complex problems
- There is a lack of analytical and problem-solving skills in existing staff
Analytical skills and critical thinking are no longer nice-to-haves. They are required skills for a changing world, and among the 10 critical skills needed for developing leaders. But which matters most?
What are analytical skills?
Applying analytical skills, you can break down facts and information into small elements that help you to solve problems. You can analyse data, apply reasoning, and recall information. You are curious about the way the data fits together.
Analytical thinkers can spot trends and gain insight into an organiSation’s business by pattern recognition. You’ll seek to identify differences, similarities, trends, and relationships between all the elements.
All these skills make you good at evaluating problems and developing logical solutions – a business-critical function.
What is critical thinking?
Critical thinking is broader than analytical reasoning. As a critical thinker, you consider all the facts and figures as presented and make judgements based on these and a range of other inputs. These may include opinions, views, and potential solutions put forward.
You don’t automatically accept information as fact. You probe, prompt, question, and research to ensure solid data, and from all you know you draw conclusions. You use all you learn to develop creative solutions.
Critical thinking skills increase your ability to be purposeful, logical, and innovative when decision-making.
Analytical skills vs critical thinking – can they be separated?
Analytical reasoning is a more linear approach to gathering and analysing data. It takes a step-by-step flow that breaks down information in a logical pattern.
Critical thinking skills enable you to question the data, verify it, and analyse outside information before developing a more holistic solution.
Which matters most depends upon your point of view. Analytical reasoning is a crucial step in the process of critical thinking. You analyse data before applying critical thinking to it.
If only using analytical skills, you use the data and facts to support your solution.
By then applying critical thinking, you evaluate all sources of information before making a judgement based on your opinion, knowledge, experience, and expertise.
While both are unique skills, and can be used individually, the nature of them makes them completely complimentary. However, the nature of them also means that critical thinkers typically use their analytical skills as the first step to developing holistic solutions that have a positive impact on their teams and organisations.
In short, analytical skills are usually developed first and are a necessity to meaningful application of critical thinking skills.
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