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How to be a whole-brain leader in the brave new world

How to be a whole-brain leader in the brave new world

Business leadership in the 21st Century requires a leader to be many things, at many different times, to many different people. The business world is increasingly dynamic, fast-paced, changing, and diverse.

Successful leaders in the 21st Century need to be able to adapt their style to suit the task at hand, the audience being communicated to, the business situation, and the broader environmental context. This is no easy feat. There is a reason for the exponential growth in leadership publications and courses—it’s getting a whole lot harder and more complex.

So today I thought I’d share some simple tools for you to improve your leadership agility in today’s complex world.

One of my favourite tools is the Whole Brain Thinking model. It’s great for communication, selling, decision making, and more. But they are all topics for future posts—you’re here to read about leadership, so let’s look at how you can be a Whole Brain Leader.

If you aren’t familiar with Whole Brain Thinking, it’s based on the ground-breaking work of Ned Herrmann and looks at how our brains and our thinking shape everything that we do. From his research, Ned created the Whole Brain Model, a metaphorical map of the mind that illustrates 4 broad thinking styles presented below.


Each of us has preferences for a different style, or styles, or thinking. But, and this is a big but, we are all capable of using each style and the modern leader will need to have the flexibility to lead in a Whole Brain way.

So, how can you move to Whole Brain leading? Well first up, here’s what leadership looks like from each of the different quadrants.


To help you move your thinking to each of the different quadrants and to ensure you create well-thought-out, whole-brained outcomes, here are some questions you may like to ask of yourself and your team.


Are you familiar with Whole Brain Thinking? Have you used it in your team? I’d love to hear your stories on how you have implemented whole brain thinking in your leadership journey. Or, if you haven’t, let me know how you think you can use these tools. As always, if you want to know more, reach out—I’m happy to help.


I approached achieving SYNERGY as my team had recently gone through some considerable challenges and I believed it would be useful for us to look at our communication and working styles in order to develop stronger working relationships. As a team of human service professionals, we presented a unique challenge for Aileen as we are trained counsellors and frequently facilitate groups ourselves. Aileen developed a focused program with the DISC profiling model as the foundation for activities that explored our interactions with each other and developed new understandings and tolerance. The program was developed in collaboration with me and I was very happy with the final training day which was very full, but was also delivered in a casual, friendly and fun way. Perfect for our organisation!

Since the training my staff have commented on feeling more connected to the team and the general improvement of morale in our office. I would have no hesitation in recommending achieving SYNERGY to other Managers in all sectors as well as the Not for Profit Sector.

Shaun Mays – WA Division Manager of Canteen