Leadership plays an important role in the failure or success of institutions. In less than a month after the US invaded Iraq, Major General David Petraeus and the 101st Airborne Division were deployed to Mosul, which is the capital of Nineveh province in northern Iraq (Lundberg, Bowles, & Zimmerman, 2006). The main objective of this deployment was to restore peace and security in the region. However, upon his arrival, General Petraeus quickly realized that he was required to carry out non-military leadership tasks to ensure the stability of the region. General Petraeus used the five steps of critical thinking and the problem-solving process to address issues that Iraqis in Mosul were facing as discussed in this paper.
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Critical Thinking and the Problem-Solving Process
Critical thinking is a mental process that is used to perceive, analyze, synthesize, and evaluate a situation or information through experience or observation in a bid to make effective decisions. Similarly, the problem-solving process is a systematic approach to issues to come up with informed decisions regarding a given phenomenon (Hess & Bacigalupo, 2014). Therefore, combining critical thinking and the problem-solving process creates five steps that can be followed to address the issues at hand. The five steps include identifying the problem, analyzing the problem, listing the viable solutions, deciding the most suitable solution, and taking action to implement the appropriate solutions.
When General Petraeus and 101st Airborne Division arrived at Mosul in late April 2003, the city was ungovernable. According to Lundberg et al. (2006), “The city of 1.7 million was a shambles as much from looting as from war. US Marines had just killed 17 Iraqis during a riot. The streets were in chaos, with police and other security forces nowhere to be seen” (p. 1). Therefore, the problem was lawlessness, hence the need to restore order, peace, and stability in the city of Mosul and the Nineveh region at large.
After identifying the problem, General Petraeus started to analyze the situation to understand it fully in a bid to come up with amicable solutions. Therefore, to understand the challenges that lay ahead, the general started to learn about the people that he was expected to lead and understand their needs. According to Sudha, Shahnawaz, and Farhat (2016), an effective leader should seek to understand the people he or she is in command of, and the general acknowledged this principle.
Therefore, he asked to be briefed about the history of the city, its culture, religion, economic operations, and everything that would help him understand the place and its people. In his “meet and greet” campaign, the general organized a meeting with 40 retired Iraqi generals on April 23, 2003 (Lundberg et al., 2006). During the meeting, he sought to understand the different perspectives concerning the problems that people in the region were facing to understand the underlying issues from different perspectives.
Brainstorming for Solutions
The general started contacting local tribal chiefs and businesspeople, religious and judicial figures, university professors, and everyone who could facilitate the peace and order restoration efforts. After engaging different stakeholders and understanding their different views concerning the problem, the general started to brainstorm for possible solutions. To achieve his goals, the general consulted all the stakeholders that he had involved during the problem analysis stage. Ultimately, three solutions were identified. The first option was to use military rule and subdue dissidents. The second one was to impose a military rule or appointing a government made up of the least-tainted former leaders (Lundberg et al., 2006). The final option was to stage an election where people would vote for their preferred leaders.
Deciding the Best Solution
After considering all the available options, it was decided that elections were the best solution to the problems that the people were facing. Conducting an election would give Iraqis the opportunity to be involved in building their future. According to Day and Dragoni (2015), involving people in the decision-making process instills a sense of ownership of ideas, and thus they are likely to be supportive. General Petraeus followed this script and succeeded in restoring order in Mosul and Nineveh at large.
While conducting an election was the best solution, it was faced with many challenges. First, the general and his team lacked a template that would be followed to ensure a successful process, and thus they had to come up with one. Despite the uncertainties that surrounded this exercise, General Petraeus took the risk and conducted an election for a governor and a provincial council. Ultimately, the problem of governance was solved and the newly elected government took charge of running Mosul together with the provincial council.
The case of General Petraeus’ time in Mosul highlights how he used critical thinking and the problem-solving problem process to restore peace and order in Mosul. After arriving in Mosul, the general realized that Iraqis in the region needed some form of governance as a way of restoring order and dealing with lawlessness. He analyzed the situation and after brainstorming for solutions with different stakeholders, it was decided that conducting elections was the best approach to the problem. The general, together with his team, staged an election where a governor and a provincial council were elected. Ultimately, the general achieved his goals of restoring order in the region by using critical thinking and the problem-solving process.
Day, D. V., & Dragoni, L. (2015). Leadership development: An outcome-oriented review based on time and levels of analyses. Annual Review of Organizational Psychology and Organizational Behavior, 2, 133-156.
Hess, J. D., & Bacigalupo, A. C. (2014). Enhancing management problem-solving processes through the application of emotional intelligence skills. Journal of Management Policies and Practices, 2(3), 1-17.
Lundberg, K., Bowles, H. R., & Zimmerman, P. (2006). The accidental statesman: General Petraeus and the city of Mosul, Iraq. Web.
Sudha, K. S., Shahnawaz, M. G., & Farhat, A. (2016). Leadership styles, leader’s effectiveness and well-being: Exploring collective efficacy as a mediator. Vision, 20(2), 111-120.