Critical Thinking Ranked as a Top Competency for Success

iStock_000014323107XSmallYou are managing a property and it is not meeting the owner’s goal for annual return on investment, what do you do? Cut expenses? If so, which ones? Spend more money on a new marketing campaign to reduce vacancies? Try to find ancillary income opportunities, and which ones? Hold off on capital expenditures, like replacing the leaky roof—even though in the long run it would be cheaper than the maintenance costs of constantly cleaning up? These are questions a real estate manager constantly faces, and what they decide will determine whether they make their clients happy, or not. How do you make the right decisions?

In the IREM Job Analysis survey, more than 800 top real estate professionals ranked “Critical Thinking” as one of the top five competencies required for success. Real estate managers are constantly making decisions and solving problems. They have to correctly interpret a myriad of financial data, understand market conditions, and identify operating and personnel issues. The profitability of a real estate management company, and the properties it manages, depends on skillful analysis and action.


While critical thinking is clearly important, it is not a term that is easily defined. In a statement by Michael Scriven and Richard Paul at the “8th Annual International Conference on Critical Thinking and Education Reform,” it was defined as: “(T)he intellectually disciplined process of actively and skillfully conceptualizing, applying, analyzing, synthesizing, and/or evaluating information gathered from, or generated by, observation, experience, reflection, reasoning, or communication, as a guide to belief and action.” (Defining Critical Thinking, www.criticalthinking.org.)  In much simpler terms, it is using good judgment in problem solving and decision making. It involves:

  1. Clearly and precisely identifying the real, underlying issues and problems that must be addressed.
  2. Gathering all necessary, relevant, and accurate information.
  3. Evaluating the information accurately while being open-minded and thorough in assessing the information
  4. Identifying the best solutions to problems and making well-reasoned decisions, which are also assessed as to their implications and practical results
  5. Working collaboratively with others in finding solutions to complex problems

With virtually all leadership competencies, a prerequisite to critical thinking is Emotional Intelligence (EQ).  Being aware of our strengths, weaknesses, biases, and beliefs will help us manage how we can best take in and analyze information—leading to well-reasoned, productive decisions. Being socially aware and managing relationships will improve the collaboration and communication required to work with others in identifying and implementing solutions to complex problems.

Critical thinking is, in short, self-directed, self-disciplined, self-monitored, and self-corrective thinking… It entails effective communication and problem solving abilities and a commitment to overcome our native egocentrism and sociocentrism.

(Taken from Richard Paul and Linda Elder, The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking Concepts and Tools, Foundation for Critical Thinking Press, 2008)

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