6 Thinking Principles to Excel your Leadership (Pt.1)

An asset that allows a leader to excel and always have influence is taking time to engage in thinking. Great leaders know the value and benefits of thinking. However, as Henry Ford said “Thinking is the hardest work there is, which is probably the reasons why so few engage in it.” Below are 3 essential thinking principles you should know and implement:

1. The principle of priority thinking

The first aspect of this principle is making thinking a priority in your life. This starts when a leader understands The Value of Thinking. Taking time to think can be a challenge for most active leaders but the benefits that come from thinking are worth the investment of your time.

Priority thinking also is about taking time to think about a specific area or topic. It’s important to know areas of top priority and then engage in thinking about those areas. Some top priority’s all leaders should think on include: strengths zones, decision making, problem solving, areas of responsibilities, and how to move your team or organization forward. When a leader thinks about these areas they will start to see an increase of results and productivity within those areas.

2. The principle of strategic thinking

I received some wise advice from a pastor when I was in my early teens. I remember he had taken me out to eat and I was sharing with him my aspirations and dreams. He gave me a great analogy I have held onto. He said something to this extent: think about an airstrip, small plans need a small runway while big plans need a big runaway. Your plans about the future require an appropriate amount of runaway if you intend to achieve your plans, goals, and dreams.

Strategic thinking allows you to think about and plan appropriately for the future. Leaders should engage in strategic thinking so they will clearly have an idea of the runway they need in order to accomplish their desired goals and vision. Taking time to strategically think and plan for your future will set you up for success. Olan Hendrix said, “Strategic thinking is like showering, you have to keep doing it.”

3. The principle of future thinking

Leaders who have a vision and the drive to accomplish great achievements would benefit from thinking about the future. Taking time to think about the future allows a leader to clarify and properly plan for the future. It provides you with a well thought out plan with goals that will move you toward a successful future. An important aspect to remember is that a leader should be future focused while still living in the present. Don’t allow your future thinking to stop your progress today. Remember the words of Bruce Lee, “If you spend too much time thinking about a thing, you’ll never get it done.”

Questions: Which of these three thinking principles should you implement this week? Can you add any thinking principles to the list?


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43 thoughts on “6 Thinking Principles to Excel your Leadership (Pt.1)

  1. Priority thinking is a big one for me that I need to work on. The problem is that I often get so busy that I just don’t have the time to do it. I was recently reading a book that said good leaders plan specific times just to think. Ironically, that’s something I’ve never thought of before!

    • Busyness will always prevent us from thinking. What’s the book you where reading? I might want to check it out. It might be worth planing thinking time. Even if it’s when your in the car or walking. Thank you for joining the discussion.

  2. Love the runway analogy! It’s so true. And lets not forget what happens after takeoff . . . the plane veers and course corrects during the entire flight until it finally reaches its destination. It’s never as simple as taking a straight path. The same holds true in life and leadership.

    If we’re not willing to course correct, we’ll never get where we’re trying to go.


  3. As Caleb pointed out a lot of us get busy, and don’t take time to think. We’re missing out if we fail to think. That’s a huge challenge. Personally, I’ve been trying to slow down to think. I read and do – but I don’t always stop to think, reflect, or plan. Thanks for delivering some principles to utilize as I improve in this area.

    • It’s a challenge for me as well. I have also seen the benefits from thinking and it’s defiantly worth the investment. Let’s keep thinking and then doing. I appreciate your insights.

  4. I like all of them, especially the analogy of the runway. My priority thinking I strive for is God first. I’m amazed how much everything else in life falls into place when He’s the priority and the wisdom surrounding all issues get very solvable. Thanks, Dan.

  5. I think all the categories of thinking really work together to give you synergy. It’s hard to truly isolate one from the other, but I think future thinking is what sticks out as something that I would benefit the most from.

  6. I think strategic thinking is the hardest because we just aren’t wired to do it naturally…and why when a good leader comes along that thinks strategically they are able to have such an impact. Scheduling specific time to think/journal has helped me a ton this year.

  7. I believe thinking to be a great beginning start to getting your mind around a goal or task. This coupled with Strategic short term or long term planning may be powerful or they may be look similar to a fourth of July sparkler burning out. Without an execution plan (action) your only have a thought with much energy expended. That always seems to be the hardest.

    • Great points, action must follow thinking and planning. I bring up the principle of executed thinking in Pt. 2 which will go up on Wed. Thank you for stopping by to read and comment. I hope your doing good.

  8. Hello Dan great post my friend,not everyone knows how to be a leader and in most cases will depend of others to make the choices for them just because it’s easier that way.

    Leadership comes from within the individual and over time will develop in to something more. Thanks so much for a very interesting post Dan have a great weekend.

    • Hi Rob,

      I totally agree. Anyone can learn leadership skills so they can begin to influence others. Thinking is just one way we can increase our leadership skills. Thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  9. Okay, so I’m struggling with number 1. I’ve taken on quite a number of projects and what I think is priority is immediately knocked around by the next thought that enters my brain. I just have to pinch myself and stay focused.

    • Hopefully the post and other facts allows you to stay focused on your top proprieties. Too many thoughts can lead to scattered thinking or not being able to accoplish anything, been their. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  10. Hi Dan,

    A very thought-provoking read. I often thought, in my day job, that staff needed to be allowed ‘thinking’ time – a crucial aspect of work that’s often not accounted for. I think a good starting point is to recognise that how we think can have such a powerful impact on our lives and our success, both personally and professionally. If we get caught up in too much negative, critical thinking, that can be very destructive – learning to think constructively, in ways that enhance our prospects, is crucial for our success. You’re right to highlight the importance of strategic thinking – it’s only too easy to get caught up in day-to-day issues and lose sight of the bigger picture. I like your runway analogy!


    • Hi Sue,

      Great point about companies allowing thinking time, how much more productive and effective would a company be if they had people who thought which would allow for better products, services, and a return on investment. Negative thinking is a killer. Thank you for adding to the conversation. I appreciate it.

  11. Dan,

    I do a lot of thinking, however, I need to be more deliberate about when and where I think. When I am tired think time never seems to make the cut. I have to work on that.

    • I’m the same way bro. I also do a lot of thinking, especially while driving or exercising. I also need to get better at taking the time to deliberately think. Let’s work on it together. Thanks for reading and commenting.

  12. “An important aspect to remember is that a leader should be future focused while still living in the present”

    I think this is something I need to focus on. When I forget about the future – especially the future fruits of my current work – I can get caught up in thinking how dreary the current work is. And then I think, “Why do I bother?” Thinking about the future – but also about just doing everything to the glory of God, future or not – that would help. Thanks for a good, insightful post!