Why Whole Brain Leadership Works

Welcome to your future. 

Welcome to the “Conceptual Age…a future that’s already here.”  

A term coined by Daniel Pink in “A Whole New Mind”, the Conceptual Age is an era that arrived with “globalization, the shipping of white collar work overseas, technology advances eliminating many kinds of work, and a material abundance that is deepening our nonmaterial yearnings.”

Arriving, surviving, and thriving in the Conceptual Age means we must find a new way of doing business…with a new leadership style…Whole Brain Leadership.

Leadership is generally defined as the role that is given to those people in a group or organization who are appointed or elected to direct and/or speak in behalf of a particular group.   Leadership styles generally match organizational requirements, and in most of today’s organizations, that means “left-brained” dominant,  or logical, rational leadership to mass produce goods or services at the lowest price.

If you watch the economic recovery carefully, I think you will see something very interesting.  Those companies that are “left behind” will be the companies most engaged in “left-brained” leadership, while those that recover, excel, or are exceeding expectations in this economic slow-down are most engaged in “whole-brain” leadership. 

Whole brain leadership differs from leadership in many of today’s organizations  in the following ways:

  1. Logical, linear thinking is supplemented by intuitive, imaginative thinking.
  2. Organizational structure encourages and rewards innovative whole brain thinking processes.
  3. Whole brain leadership encourages organizational implementation of innovative, creative solutions; making Conceptual Age organizations adaptive and responsive to today’s rapidly changing, high-touch marketplace.

Right now, you may be working for the “old” company.  A hierarchial organization where leadership is completely “top down.”  A company with a leadership and organizational structure where you, along with many others, have experienced the frustration of being unable to input or implement innovative ideas, or to influence others in a positive and effective manner. 

Not that you haven’t tried…it’s simply that the organizational barriers are deeply imbedded in the structure.

If you have an entrepreneurial spirit but choose not to start your own company, or work for yourself, you may be frustrated enough to start searching for an organization that’s already engaged in whole brain leadership…an organization that understands we’ve entered the Conceptual Age.  

And…you may find one.  They do exist!   One company that’s been at the top of the list for Fortune 500’s “Best Companies to Work For” for the past 15 years is W. L. Gore, a technology company that makes, among other things, the weather resistant Gore-Tex synthetic fabric.  

This privately-held company founded by W. L. Gore in 1958 still operates with its original whole brain leadership concepts, as sited in “Small Groups, Big Ideas /Workforce.com”:

“Gore built the company upon four core principles–1) fairness; 2) freedom to encourage others to grow in knowledge, skill and responsibility; 3) ability to honor one’s own commitments; and 4) consultation with others before taking action that could affect the company “below the waterline.” 

Instead of the typical corporate hierarchy, he created a “flat lattice” organization that not only had no titles, but also no chains of command or predetermined channels of communication.”

Because of its unique whole brain leadership style, this company has grown enormously, and brought many new innovative products to market…quickly.

This company, and others like it, are surpassing the need for logical, linear thinking that was the hallmark of the Information Age.  New Age — or “Conceptual Age”, as coined by Daniel Pink (A Whole New Mind)  companies understand the need for, and  value of,  “inventive, empathic, big-picture capabilities.” 

Whole brain leadership works in this, and similar organizations, by creating working environments where data  is analyzed (left-brain work)  and “imagined” (right-brain work)  into the sum of its parts, and its contextual relationship to determine and define “what really matters;”  and to understand that what really matters today has already changed from what mattered yesterday. Left-brained and right-brained workers, thoughts and processes,  are combined…not left behind.

We are moving from”materialism” to “matter-ism.”  What we want from life is much more attached to the  emotional and artistic beauty of an object than its pure function.  The environmental cost to produce matters.  Whether it is aesthetically pleasing matters. 

Organizations with whole brain leadership will excel at developing high-concept, high-touch products and services by developing  its employees skill sets to meet this need.   Employees, in turn, will be rewarded in new meaningful ways.

If all of this is sounding a little esoteric to you, take a close look at what you want from life compared to what your parents…or their parents…wanted or experienced. 

Even in this global economic downturn, humanity… collectively…still lives a life of much greater abundance.  

You expect more from your work.  You want to contribute more and…you probably want someone to listen…and implement your ideas. 

All of us have more than a left brain…or a right brain.  We have a whole brain…and even if we favor one side over the other…collectively, our whole brain in an organization…can create a Whole Brain Leadership style that will move the organization forward quickly and well into the future.

Welcome to the Conceptual Age.   If you choose to move forward…and help your organization move forward…become a Whole Brain Leader.

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