Wisdom, Worldview, and Competency: A Leadership Trifecta

Few would argue that today’s marketplace is very different than when our grandparents were in business. When grandpa used the word “global,” it truly meant something far away and distant. This is not the case anymore. The ripple effects of business decisions in Asia are felt across the globe in major cities such as New York, Chicago, London, and Prague. 

For strong and viable businesses to remain relevant in a changing landscape, leaders are required to expand their method of thinking to leverage their skills as strategic visionaries, innovative-opportunists, and catalysts. More than ever, leaders must know what they believe, how they arrived at that value-belief system, and what they will do with that knowledge to manage their business effectively.

The GLOBE Study

GLOBE is an organization dedicated to the study of culture, leadership, and organizational effectiveness. The organization’s Research Project showcased the outcome of the results combined with the current circumstances of a global market. The study included multiple cultures and perspectives of leaders from around the globe. But the perspective for global leaders does not rest in clinical or laboratory research only. Global leaders need wisdom. They must be truth seekers who can comprehend and assess the difference between fact, fiction, lies, and biased opinions. 

Combining wisdom and worldview is not enough to be successful, however. The global leader must be competent in decision making, whether learned or developed, which starts with their mindset. 

“When leaders think they know everything that’s the moment they’ve proved they don’t.”  – Dr. Troy 

Integrative vs. Conventional Thinkers

According to theorist Roger Martin, global leaders must be integrative thinkers who continue to develop their thinking skills while welcoming complexity. He compares integrative and conventional thinkers to one another, finding that the approach was the main difference between the two methods. 

Integrative thinkers approach a problem from a multi-dimensional aspect, while conventional thinkers apply a linear concept to problem-solving. The exercise of integrative thinking requires the leader to hold two opposing ideas at the same time, allowing them to coexist without tempting to find a quick resolution with one or the other. 

Pitfalls of Conventional Thinking

Leaders are cautioned to avoid the temptation to make use of conventional thinking to solve today’s challenges. Leaders who embrace conventional thinking tend to gloss over potential solutions. In general, conventional thinkers also prefer to accept the world just as they see it, which doesn’t bode well for the growth of an organization.  

Thinking is Messy

The messy part of integrative thinking is that it requires leaders to have the capacity to hold two opposing ideas in their minds at the same time. Martin based this “thinking messiness” on the theory of the opposable thumb. Human beings are distinguished from every other type of creature by a physical feature, the opposable thumb. The brain is further developed when that muscle (thumb) is exercised, such as in writing or grasping objects. 

Humans are born with the capacity for opposable thoughts to exist within the mind. This allows two conflicting ideas to be held in constructive, almost dialectic tension within the brain. When integrative thinking is engaged, the leader focuses on a solution instead of what’s right or wrong. 

Integrative Thinking Has Value

Integrative thinking adds value for leaders because it helps them understand how wisdom, worldview, and competency interact. Also, leaders who exercise integrative thinking welcome the challenge of shaping the world for the better. 

In my experience, integrative thinking leaders possess the ultimate leadership trifecta: Wisdom, Worldview, and Competency. 

Are you incorporating wisdom, worldview, and competency into your leadership style? How has leadership changed for you and your organization as the world becomes more and more connected?  We’d love to hear your stories below!