To Lead Well is to Think Well

Great Leaders Lead Well

Great Leaders Lead Well because they think well.

“The ancestor of every action is a thought.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Great leaders perceive, think and choose well, resulting in effective outcomes.

Dierks Bentley’s upbeat country/rock song, “What Was I Thinkin?” laments a series of poor choices that caused problems. Dierks’ psychology is right on. Our actions grow out of our thinking.

“Why do people act/behave as they do?” “Why do people behave for good or ill? What drives effective, productive actions? What drives ineffective, counter-productive actions? Why are people outgoing or aloof, controlling or cool, calm and collected, high strung, confident, mean spirited, negative, considerate, or unproductive, etc.?

If we drill down below the surface, we observe that people make choices that produce behaviors. If we drill down even further, the next questions is: What drives my choices?

Great Leaders Think Well

Thinking drives choices. For example, the leader who thinks that meeting/being with people is enjoyable will be engaging, warm and outdoing. Conversely, the leader who thinks that meeting people is stressful will be private and retreat. Either outcome is based on thinking that leads to actions, i.e., “The ancestor of every action is a thought.”

Think Well to Lead Well.

I use the word “thinking “ as an umbrella term to describe all the cognitive processing in my conscious and subconscious thoughts. My thinking includes my assumptions, attitudes, values, beliefs convictions, prejudices and biases, basically my conclusions about myself, my work, others, and all of life. Then I use these thoughts/conclusions to filter all I take in though my perceptive senses. I use them for recognition, interpretation and expectations. Meaning, my thinking not only sets in motion my behaviors but also becomes the key to understanding.


I use a simple process diagram to illustrate the concept: Perceive >Think> Choose>Act.

We perceive the world around us through our “six” senses (sensory skills include intuition/emotional intelligence) that constantly pick up stimulus hardwired directly to our brains where we “think” about what we have perceived. That perception is evaluated using our filters of recognition, Interpretation and expectation, leading us to our thoughts about what we perceived. We then make choices based on that thinking, and act.

To learn more about effective leadership read, “Good Shepherd Great Leader”  Take the “Good Shepherd Great Leader Assessment Survey”