Before answering this question too quickly… are you sure that such a thing even exists?
If this intrigues you, you will enjoy (as I did) the Freakonomics podcast entitled “This Idea Must Die” which examines “scientific ideas” that are commonly accepted, but in fact really do need to be retired. Personally, I would love to do this same exercise with a business slant.
Back to the left-brain versus right-brain question. Many, if not all of us, probably have an opinion about whether we ourselves, our spouses, children, and/or friends are left-brained or right-brained, and we assume the left brain/right brain dichotomy is well grounded in scientific study. In reality, according to Sarah-Jayne Blakemore in the podcast, this concept swept into popular culture and was then reproduced so many times that it became perfectly natural for us to apply these labels and simply assume the science behind them. No one is arguing there aren’t important scientific facts behind the understanding of how different components of the brain control different functionality in human beings, however, the notion that we have a left and right side of our brains, which operate independently of one another, according to Blakemore “makes no psychological sense”. Interesting food for thought.
What commonly practiced and accepted business assumptions are you ready to see killed off or die?
When Susan Cain was nine years old, her mother packed a suitcase full of books and sent her off to summer camp where she was promptly encouraged to put them away and push herself to become more ‘social’, and less ‘introverted’. It was the first of countless times throughout her childhood that she would receive the message that extroversion was not just the opposite of introversion, but was, in fact, a preferred, more valued, and idealized counterpart. In this TED Talk, Susan argues that there is a huge loss to creativity and leadership that comes with an over focus on extroversion in organizations, and that when introverts are passed over for promotions because of their reserved nature, companies may be missing out on some of their most careful, thoughtful, and creative leaders.
As a culture, it seems hard for us accept that opposing behaviours can and do exist without requiring opposing labels of ‘good’ versus ‘bad’. It’s time for organizations to start valuing the balance; to stop labelling introversion as a negative, while placing hyper-sociability (which comes with its own limitations and drawbacks to efficiency and productivity) on a pedestal. Action is not always the ideal over contemplation. Nor is collaboration always the ideal over autonomy. Solitude is often a very crucial ingredient to creativity, and the more freedom we give introverts to be themselves, the more likely they are to come up with their own creative solutions to problems, and lead organizations or teams in their own unique and valuable way.
There is a distinct emotion that accompanies the arrival of a great business opportunity. It is part adrenaline, part fear and part excitement. It is the same emotional high that comes with being close to inevitable victory in a season ending hockey game. It is the point at which everything around slows down, your vision becomes crystal clear and things seem to be effortless, because you can taste victory. In business, moments like these are all too rare. They may be found, from time to time, in the thrill of concluding an acquisition, the inauguration of a new manufacturing plant, the opening of a new store, (or a Game 7 overtime win) but seldom are they part of an organization’s day-to-day experience.
Decision Making Intelligence is the second credibility builder and it is the ability to solve problems, resolve issues and come to conclusions that satisfy the various stakeholders and leave them feeling fully and clearly committed to the decision. It is about personal credibility and trusted judgment. In order to be credible, leaders must combine their Emotional Intelligence with a proven track record of superior decision making under a wide variety of circumstances and across a wide portfolio of business matters.
A leader must have the ability to understand and master the complex elements involved in the decision-making process, including the rational and interpersonal components, as well as the divergent and convergent phases. These abilities embody the essence of decision making within what is known as the field of Behavioural Economics. Our current understanding of this science comes from a growing pool of notable experts, such as Daniel Kahneman and Daniel Ariely, who have helped us better understand the mechanics of decision making and the phases we go through as we make business decisions in particular
Together, the powerful combination of Emotional Intelligence and Decision making Intelligence represent the fundamental building blocks upon which leaders develop their legitimacy. In other words, as Barbara Kellerman points out in her book Followership, leaders will not able to lead effectively unless their followers have determined them to be worthy. Legitimacy, defined in this way, is something granted to the leader by their followers. As such, it could be argued it actually puts the followers in control.
The emphasis we have placed on the value of accumulated or stored knowledge we have worshiped in the past, is now a potentially dangerous source of false confidence. It is actually a rapidly depreciating asset, given the fact the half-life of anything new is shortening every day. To become a transformational leader and truly differentiate yourself, it has become increasingly important to work on your timely retrieval ability, rather than on your storage capacity. The more novel and different things you experience or have an interest in, the more likely your brain will be able to fill in the missing pieces and make the new connections that allow us to make sense out of apparent nonsense.
The nature and value of experience has changed along with the changes which have taken place in the external environment. The definition of experience is radically different than the one used by most business leaders in the past. It is not about the number of years of deep professional experience in a narrowly defined role or within a certain professional skill set. Instead, it is the rich variety and diversity of multiple different personal experiences that act as stimuli for the brain. It is the varied tapestry of personal experiences that helps ensure we do not become locked into narrow channels of thinking, but instead leap across domains to collect, share and assemble new patterns of insight.
The first competency required to build a transformational leaders personal credibility bank is Emotional intelligence (EQ). It is the ability to know yourself, manage yourself and build effective relationships with others. It has been written about extensively in recent years, yet, surprisingly, it is still not well understood by everyone in business, let alone perfected and practiced by leaders at all levels. In its simplest sense, EQ requires leaders to have a solid understanding of their own emotional construct and to have the ability to manage and regulate their emotions. In addition, EQ requires the ability to understand the emotional tone and motivations of others.