Source from:
October 2017 Special Issue Business SCAN

To change people’s mindset and way of thinking, you have to engage with the most complex system in nature – the brain. The EY Edge journey will continue as an exploration of the brain behind thinking, motivations and purpose and how to achieve highest performing teams and a better working world.

Brain of a 21C Leader

Build highest performing teams based on thinking styles

Today, the smartest firms are not necessarily those that out-produce the competition. Rather, they are the ones that out-think the competition.

More than ever, 21C leaders must become adept at working with mental models and managing different thinking styles to build productive and innovative teams. 

Most leaders think about building teams based on what people do. We select from skills and assign tasks and responsibilities. But this doesn’t account for the influence of emotions, irrationalities and psychological forces at large. By knowing how your colleagues, team and organisation think, everyone can be more energised, more engaged, more creative and more productive.

“The world as we have created it is a process of our thinking. It cannot be changed without changing our thinking”

Albert Einstein

Evaluate your thinking style by:

  • Focus: Do you tend to pay the most attention to ideas, processes, action or relationships? For example, as you contemplate the day ahead, does your focus naturally land on the problems you need to solve, the plans you need to make, the actions you need to take or the people you need to see?
  • Orientation: Do you swing towards the details or the big picture? For example, are you more likely to complain about getting dragged into the weeds or about things being too general and not specific enough?

Combine these two dimensions and see the thinking style of yourself, your colleagues or at work in whatever context or setting you choose:


Sources: Bonchek, M. and Steele, E. (2015) What kind of thinker are you? Harvard Business Review, 23 Nov; De Cremer, D. and Tao, T. (2016) Creating Effective Organisational Systems through Experimenting with Human Nature, The European Business Review, 18 Oct; Huy, Q. (2016) Scaling Up Emotional Intelligence to Inspire the Crowd, INSEAD Knowledge, 30 Mar; Escallón, C. and Johnston, A. (2017) Think differently: rewire your brain, London Business School Review, 23 Jan.

Action Point

Consider the group dynamic in your teams or service lines. What thinking-styles are represented and how can you proactively contribute to improving the dynamics?

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Empowering Employees | Group Dynamics | Emotional Intelligence

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Brain of a 21C Leader
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