Good Habits #11: Thinking Out Loud

By | April 23, 2015

[April 23, 2014] As leaders we often find it difficult to clearly communicate what tasks need to get done and with as few mistakes as possible. Surprised? Of course not. Leaders normally give good orders but fail to communicate plainly their intent and also fail to put it into the proper context so that an employee can carry it out. One good habit to overcome this problem is for the leader to think out loud.

Leaders need their folks to do more than just follow orders; even in the military we need more. When all people do is follow orders, it’s no longer important for them to understand what the leader is trying to accomplish. Since we operate in a changing and complex world, just simply giving an order and hoping all works out, is not going to produce success.

A better technique, that should become habit, is that leader should think out loud in order to convey crucial information in the context of the work environment. By doing so the leader is giving information that can be used to decrease uncertainty. This means the leader will make themselves susceptible to failure but at the same time they will build resilience in the workforce.

“Leaders must learn to “think out loud,” being transparent in their thought process as decisions and trade-offs are made, as well as showing vulnerability when they aren’t sure what to do.” – Brad Smith, Intuit President and CEO

The habit of thinking out loud has the additional benefit in that it teaches what core principles are most important to the organization and why. In order to achieve excellence – rather than trying to avoid mistakes – it is worthwhile that we encourage people to say what they think, what they believe, were skeptical about, worried about, and hoped for the future. The fact that we don’t normally do this, is a problem throughout most organizations and what Brad Smith was saying in the above quote.

Thinking out loud is the choice that leaders make to strive for reducing mistakes and achieving success … and this is not what we are taught as leaders but should make as one of our good habits.

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Good Habits #1: Never Assume Anything:

Good Habits #2: Walk Around and Talk with People:

Good Habits #3: Read Mission-Related Material:

Good Habits #4: Take the Initiative:

Good Habits #5: Effective Use of Time:

Good Habits #6: Show the Human Side:

Good Habits #7: Speak Properly:

Good Habits #8: Transparency:

Good Habits #9: Continuous Learning:

Good Habits #10: Make No Excuses:


Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I provide one article every day. My writings are influenced by great thinkers such as Friedrich Nietzsche, Karl Jung, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Jean Piaget, Erich Neumann, and Jordan Peterson, whose insight and brilliance have gotten millions worldwide to think about improving ourselves. Thank you for reading my blog.

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