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Critical Thinking and Ethical
Leadership

Risa M. Mish, Senior Lecturer of Leadership and
Director, Johnson School Leadership Skills Program and
Dana Radcliffe, Day Family Senior Lecturer of Business Ethics ©Risa M. Mish, 2010. All Rights Reserved.

Johnson Leadership Model: Knowledge

2

Critical Thinking and Ethical Leadership – ©Risa M. Mish 2010. All Rights Reserved

What is “Critical Thinking”?
Analyzing, Synthesizing and Evaluating

INFORMATION
Gathered from or generated by

OBSERVATION

EXPERIENCE

REASONING

In Order to Guide

BELIEFS
3

ACTIONS

Critical Thinking and Ethical Leadership – ©Risa M. Mish 2010. All Rights Reserved

Critical and Strategic Thinking Process
1

Information
Sorting

2

3

Problem solving

• What do I know?
• What information am I
missing?

• What is the context?

• Is my reasoning sound?
• What am I assuming,
and are those
assumptions valid?

• What are the options
for solving?

• What are the best
counter-arguments and
why don’t they “win”?

Persuasion &
Communication

• What is the problem
and what caused it?

• Which option is best?
Why?
• Implications for my
proposed solution?

• What complication led
to the analysis?
• What is my analysis?
• How does my analysis
solve the problem?
• Why is my analysis
optimal?

• Self correct

4

Critical Thinking and Ethical Leadership – ©Risa M. Mish 2010. All Rights Reserved

Critical and Strategic Thinking Process – part 1
1

Information
Sorting
• What do I know?
• What information am I
missing?
• Is my reasoning sound?
• Am I assuming
anything, and are those
assumptions
necessarily valid?
• What are the best
counter-arguments and
why don’t they “win”?

5

Problem solving
• What is the problem
• What caused it?
• What are the options
for solving?
• Which option is best?
Why?
• Implications for my
proposed solution?
• Self correct

Critical Thinking and Ethical Leadership – ©Risa M. Mish
2010. All Rights Reserved

Communication
• What complication led
to the analysis?
• What is my analysis?
• How does my analysis
solve the problem?
• Why is my analysis
optimal?

Critical Thinking Practice Question 1
Situation

Giselle is COO of Wilson Widgets. Shenwei, a Division Manager, presents data showing that it costs 25% more to train staff on how to use a machine manufactured by Anderson than it does to train them on how to use a machine manufactured by Barker. Shenwei wants to replace Anderson machines with Barker machines.

Giselle believes the better strategy is to hire people who already know how to use Anderson machines.
Questions
 Assuming that the training cost data is accurate, should Wilson Widgets adopt Shenwei’s suggestion? Why?
 Should Wilson Widgets adopt Giselle’s alternative proposal? Why?

6

Critical Thinking and Ethical Leadership – ©Risa M. Mish 2010. All Rights Reserved

Critical and Strategic Thinking Process – part 2
Information
Sorting

2

Problem solving

• What am I assuming,
and are those
assumptions valid?

• What is the context?

• Is my reasoning sound?

• What are the options
for solving?

• What are the best
counter-arguments and
why don’t they “win”?

• What is the problem
and what caused it?

• Which option is best?
Why?
• Implications for my
proposed solution?

Communication
• What complication led
to the analysis?
• What is my analysis?
• How does my analysis
solve the problem?
• Why is my analysis
optimal?

• Self correct

7

Critical Thinking and Ethical Leadership – ©Risa M. Mish 2010. All Rights Reserved

Case Discussion: “World Class Bull”

8

Critical Thinking and Ethical Leadership – ©Risa M. Mish 2010. All Rights Reserved

World Class Bull: CONTEXT
 What are the key attributes of this problem setting?
 When is the problem occurring?
 What kind of organization is this?
 What kind of team is this?
 Who are...
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