Leader Thinking Skills : Capacities for Contemporary Leadership book cover
1st Edition

Leader Thinking Skills
Capacities for Contemporary Leadership

ISBN 9781138284333
Published August 21, 2019 by Routledge
404 Pages 15 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

This book examines the various thinking skills that leaders may need to find success in contemporary organizations and institutions, covering a wide array of skills that are held to be important by key leadership scholars.

Bridging theory and practice, chapters summarize major findings with respect to a particular ability, knowledge, or skill, providing theoretical frameworks for understanding how these contribute to leader emergence and performance, and considering implications for leader selection, assessment, and development. The text appraises the existing research on the critical cognitive capabilities that underlie leader problem-solving and implications for the assessment and development of leadership potential in real-world settings. The role of creative thinking skills on leader performance is also addressed, bearing on the importance of processes such as problem definition and idea generation, but also using constraints to potentially stimulate creative thought.

With contributions from some of the most eminent scholars working in the field of leadership, this book will be in invaluable resource to academics, researchers, graduate students, and professionals interested in leadership and leader skills, I/O psychology, and business management.

Table of Contents


List of Contributors


Michael D. Mumford and Cory Higgs

Chapter 1: Intelligence and Leadership

John Antonakis, Dean Keith Simonton and Jonathan Wai

Chapter 2: Leadership and Information Processing: A Dynamic System, Dual-Processing Perspective

Robert G. Lord

Chapter 3: Uncertainty and Problem-Solving: The Role of Leader in Information Gathering Strategies

Jay J. Caughron, Teresa Ristow and Alison L. Antes

Chapter 4: Are Satisfied Employees Productive or Productive Employees Satisfied?: How Leaders Think About and Apply Causal Information

David R. Peterson

Chapter 5: Thinking About Causes: How Leaders Identify the Critical Variables to Act On

Michael D. Mumford, Cory A. Higgs, Erin Michelle Todd and Samantha Elliot

Chapter 6: Leaders’ Shifts in Attention During an Organizational Crisis: Longitudinal Evidence of Responses to a Crisis Within a Top Management Team

Ian A. Combe and David J. Carrington

Chapter 7: Creative Problem Solving: Processes, Strategies, and Considerations for Leaders

Kelsey E. Medeiros, Belinda C. Williams and Adam Damadzic

Chapter 8: Seeing the Future Through the Past: Forecasting Skill as a Basis for Leader Performance

Michael D. Mumford, Mark Fichtel, Tanner Newbold, Samantha England and Cory A. Higgs

Chapter 9: Leader Decision Making Capacity: An Information Processing Perspective

Shing Kwan Tam, Dawn L. Eubanks and Tamara L. Friedrich

Chapter 10: Making Sense of Leaders Making Sense

Peter Gronn

Chapter 11: Leaders, Teams, and their Mental Models

Jensine Paoletti, Denise L. Reyes and Eduardo Salas

Chapter 12: Leader Social Acuity

Stephen J. Zaccaro and Elisa M. Torres

Chapter 13: Leadership and Monitoring Skills

David V. Day, Ronald E. Riggio and Rowan Y. Mulligan

Chapter 14: Wisdom, Foolishness and Toxicity in Leadership: How Does One Know Which is Which?

Robert J. Sternberg


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Michael D. Mumford is the George Lynn Cross Distinguished Research Professor of Psychology at the University of Oklahoma and serves as the Director of the Center for Applied Social Research. His research focuses on leadership, creativity, ethics, and planning.  

Cory A. Higgs is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma’s Industrial and Organizational Psychology program, and has completed work related to leadership, ethics, and creativity.


"Assembling the best researchers in the world on leader thinking skills to review and integrate what is known on the topic, and then asking them to discuss the applications and implications of this knowledge for practice, makes for a highly fascinating and extremely useful compendium. For leader success and effectiveness, these experts on leader cognition have pushed the field further faster, making this book a must-read for researchers, practitioners, and aspiring students of leader cognitive skills." - Francis J. Yammarino, PhD, Binghamton University, State University of New York, USA.

"One of the most important functions of leadership is decision making because effective decisions relate to organizational performance. But how do leaders make the right decisions? This volume provides an excellent overview of how leaders think: how leaders gather and process information to make strategic decisions. Starting with leader intelligence and information processing, this volume covers a wide range of topics examining the thought process of leaders as decision makers. The emphasis on creative thinking and problem solving is important, giving the challenging context of organizational change. The final chapter on the importance of the selection of wise leaders underscores the importance of ethical leadership in today’s turbulent world." - Terri A. Scandura, Warren C. Johnson Professor of Management, Miami Business School, University of Miami, USA.

"The vast majority of leadership research has concentrated on leader behaviors and follower reactions to leaders, ignoring the thinking that let up to those behaviors. This book adeptly captures this critical, yet largely overlooked component of leadership. This book is packed with excellent insights and advice for leaders as well as critical pieces for scholars of cognition. Topic areas include creative problem solving, causal analysis, forecasting and the importance of wisdom. This book brings together the "wisdom" of eminent scholars to summarize the most current "thinking" on the subject of leader thinking skills." - Leanne Atwater, Professor of Leadership and Management, C. T. Bauer College of Business, University of Houston, USA.

"Once again, Mumford hits a home run with an exceptional volume that speaks to one of the most critical needs in organizational studies: leadership selection and development. Mumford and Higgs showcase their unique ability to knit together academic research with practitioner concerns. In this well-written volume they clearly lay out the case for looking at the cognitive abilities and decision making skills that are vitally important, empirically verifiable, predictors of leadership and organizational performance. The contributed chapters from an all-star line-up of authors support the importance of "functional leadership", the key theme providing an alternative to "idealism" leadership research based just on self-reports. There is no question that academics will be inspired to incorporate these findings into their own research programs; practitioners will be delighted to find numerous, actionable, potent "take-aways". This effort will be a seminal volume establishing functional leadership as a current and future leadership theme for the 21st century." - Steven E. Markham, Mgt. Dept., Pamplin College of Business, Virginia Tech, USA.

"It is clear that both Mumford and Higgs have assembled a ‘who’s who’ stable of authors to examine the topic of leader thinking. These leadership experts synthesize and summarize how leaders think and operate, providing in-depth science in an accessible format. For anyone interested in understanding what’s going on ‘under the hood’ of leadership, this book is a must have. I would recommend the book to my exceptional undergraduates, graduate students, and faculty colleagues. It will sit on my shelf as a key resource both now and in the years to come." - Samuel T. Hunter, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, Industrial and Organizational Program Area, Pennsylvania State University, USA.