training, developing and coaching leaders of the future
The Whole Brain Leader
The Whole Brain Leader
November 6, 2015
Successful leaders know it—leadership development never stops. That was true fifty years ago, but it’s even more true in the ever-changing business world we live in today.
With the introduction of the internet in the last decades of the previous century, and its explosive growth this century, we now have entered a highly interconnected era. The opportunities are endless, but so are the challenges.
Disruption is all around us. New industries and markets emerge from everywhere. Sometimes they disappear as suddenly as they came, and others are here to stay. Some make old industries and markets obsolete, resulting in the death of even large and well-established organisations. Few had heard of Google in 1998, but now, less than two decades later, it’s ranked in the top five company market values. In the previous century, Pan-Am and TWA were major airlines, icons so to say. Unfortunately for them, they have vanished. Other disrupting airlines like Virgin Air, Ryanair, and Easyjet had entered the arena.
Think of Über, disrupting the taxi world, and Airbnb, doing the same with the hotel and bed & breakfast business. Communities of all kinds are shaking up organisations, industries, countries, and even the whole world. Trying to hold on to the “proven ways” with “experienced leaders” has become a dangerous strategy, a nice recipe to enter the list of victims in the industry.
Organisations have to reinvent themselves in order to deal with the VUCA world, a world defined by a high level of Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, andAmbiguity. This acronym has been derived from the military, but fits perfectly as a description of the modern business world. Giving the present situation a name also makes it easier to find solutions to deal with it.
For leadership, this means change—a change in the way leadership should be practised. Major shifts in leadership thinking are necessary. Leadership is not attached to a position anymore, it has become a process. We are moving away from the individual towards the collective, from “top-down” to “throughout the organisation” from independent to interdependent decision making, from power in a position to power in capabilities. No matter what your organisation chart looks like, leadership is not for the happy few anymore, it’s something all employees have to contribute to.
The true leaders in this VUCA world accept their responsibility and work on their own development as well as on the development of their organisation. The true leaders lead as coaches, applying the power of Whole Brain Thinking. They are what we refer to as Whole Brain Leaders.
In order to reach that level, leaders have to develop vertically as well as horizontally.
Horizontal leadership development is about improving your skills and your way of working. Vertical leadership development is about expanding your mindset and improving your way of thinking. Both are essential, but we focus mainly on vertical development.
In our book, The Whole Brain Leader, we will take you on a journey. Our aim is that you arrive at the level of the Whole Brain Leader. Whole Brain Leaders inspire other leaders to join them on their journey, and help their organisations to thrive in the VUCA world. They know how to adapt and create harmony from chaos.
On the vertical scale, we distinguish four levels of leadership development: the Expert, the Achiever, the Individualist, and the Strategist. There are two more, less developed, levels before the Expert level, the Opportunist and Diplomat, but The Whole Brain Leader has not been written for them.
The Expert is the one that still depends on his original (technical) hard skills, whereas the Strategist has developed his mindset in such a way that he is able to transform organisations. The development from Expert to Strategist normally takes several years. Applying the tactics from The Whole Brain Leader will help to speed up the process.
Following the steps, as we present them in the book, makes you aware of your reality, helps you to implement Whole Brain Thinking, teaches you to lead as a coach, and gets you started on the transformation necessary. Following the four steps will not only help you deal with, but also benefit from, the VUCA world.
If your organisation depends on you, you should not hesitate; start right away, reduce the dependency, and start creating a network of interdependable leaders.
The Whole Brain Leader - Ingvar Jónsson & Sjoerd de Waal. The book has been launched during the EDU10- and ACRE21-conferences in Klein Kariba, Bela Bela, South-Africa (www.acre21.com), 11-16 October 2015. During these conferences, themed "The year of the Beyonder", we have given four workshops on Whole Brain Leadership to audiences from various industries. Out of 138 evaluations, 118 were marked "Excellent!"