6 Things Really Thoughtful Leaders Do

Introspection is crucial for daily success. In fact, the most thoughtful leaders stand out because of the way they treat people, manage their careers, and measure up against challenging goals.

To be a thoughtful leader is to be greatly admired and deservedly so. The brain is a sadly under-utilized organ. A little effort can make a big difference in gaining the respect that goes with being thoughtful. Here are 6 traits of really thoughtful leaders for you to emulate.

1. They Observe

Thoughtful leaders crave stimulus to get their mind working. That’s why their powers of observation are always hard at work. They are masters of watching and listening to everything happening. They observe the world moving around them and notice behavior, culture and patterns with great interest. When engaging with people they have heightened awareness of their tone, mood and feelings. You can see they are actively engaged. Try spending an hour in a busy environment just looking and listening. Take notes on what you see and hear, or better yet, shut off your inner voice and just take it all in.

2. They Explore

Thoughtful leaders are naturally curious. Their insatiable need for knowledge drives them to open closed doors, dissect the mundane and analyze alternative concepts. They can spend hours surfing the web or weeks traveling abroad. Questions starting with who, what, where, why and how are second nature to them. In conversation they will probe and prod, looking for deeper answers and hoping to get to the core truth. No idea or suggestion is poor at the outset; rather all possibilities are worthy of open consideration. Expand your perspective beyond your normal sphere. Make an attempt to engage people and ponder ideas that are outside your usual, comfortable approach.

3. They Reflect

Thoughtful leaders understand the value of deep thinking. Although perfectly capable of making reflexive decisions when required, they prefer to ponder and live with big dilemmas and decisions. They think about the potential implications for themselves and the other people around them. They consider carefully the people they impact and use skilled communication to instill comfort and confidence in their teams. They know that a slow “yes” is better than a fast “no” and will apportion appropriate time and energy to each opportunity. Begin adding time to your decision process. Using a journal, create a 1-5 rating for the seriousness of your decisions and determine a set time to decide. This allows you to consider all angles. Try this for a week and you’ll learn how to manage your thinking for both depth and efficiency.

4. They Learn

Thoughtful leaders love to get smart. Their insatiable need for knowledge drives them to read, discuss and absorb complex concepts and broad perspectives. No amount of information is enough for them to feel complete and accomplished. The joy of the learning journey thrills them more than any degree or accolade. Their deep interest in other people is genuinely derived from their desire to understand. Set out three new challenging skills to learn over the next year. You’ll not only gain the subject knowledge required, but you’ll stimulate your desire and aptitude to learn more.

5. They Consider Others

Thoughtful leaders are naturally empathetic. They have a love of humankind and are fascinated by offensive or bizarre behavior rather than affronted by it. At their core they understand the concept of cause and effect, thinking about how to get the most desired reaction for the effort extended. They make people around them feel important and worthy of time and energy. Examine your actions from the perspective of others. Think through your decisions from the perspective of your adversaries. You may find more win-win scenarios than you previously thought possible.

6. They Take Action

Thoughtful leaders are rarely stuck in analysis paralysis. They know how to turn careful thought into meaningful action. They understand that thought and exploration without physical implementation and impact is selfish and wasteful. They won’t make people wonder if any good comes of all this thinking. They know when to finish the thinking and make great things happen. Whatever great things you have been pondering, it’s time to put those thoughts into motion and achieve your preferred destiny.

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Kevin Daum is an award winning and bestselling author of 5 books. He is a marketer, speaker, and columnist for Inc.com and Smart Business Magazine. As an Inc. 500 entrepreneur, his sales and marketing techniques resulted in more than $1 billion in sales. Drawing on his background in theatre and business, Kevin is a compelling speaker who has engaged and inspired audiences around the globe. Kevin is a graduate of the MIT Entrepreneurial Masters program and has received the Global Learning Award 3 times from the Entrepreneur’s Organization, where he held several board positions. Kevin has designed, produced, and led award-winning executive training programs and events for C-level executives and entrepreneurs on four continents. Previously, Kevin was named one of the 40 people to watch under 40 in San Francisco by the Business Times and in 2006 was named Distinguished Alum of the Year by his alma mater, Humboldt State University.