THERE ARE NO SHORTCUTS to long-term success, and that’s why balance is critical when it comes to the mindset of a leader.

The recent worldwide recession has definitely impacted leadership thinking patterns. As many leaders seek to resolve internal issues through cost-cutting strategies, organization flattening and process streamlining, they must also work to focus on external issues, striking a critical balance between the two mindsets of the brain – the left, geared toward creative planning, and the right, geared toward risk management and protection.

There are no shortcuts to long-term success, and that’s why balance is critical when it comes to the mindset of a leader. Yes – it may look easier to cut costs, reduce headcounts or defund programs, but such actions almost certainly have implications. For instance, I recall a firm whose leadership chose to cut its marketing staff and budget only to discover after launching a promising new product that fizzled  due to insufficient marketing. Although those cuts were made to protect the company, they actually hurt the company at the end of the day, because the launch of a highly anticipated product had to be delayed. Instead of panicking in an effort to protect, a wise leader might have focused on strategic creative planning that would have kept that marketing team, or some form of it, in place.

In my latest book, Brilliant or Blunder: 6 Ways Leaders Navigate Uncertainty, Opportunity and Complexity, I discuss why it is critical for leader’s to maintain a strategic balance between the two hemispheres of the mind. The three mindsets of the left hemisphere are:

  • Inventing: New products
  • Catalyzing: Customer satisfaction; Market share
  • Challenging: Preparing for new and future business models

As a leader, the left hemisphere mindset may come easy to you, but it is critical to maintain a balance between the left and right sides of the brain. So, while your left side is working furiously to prepare a new business model, the right side of the brain is tasked with removing risk and maintaining the status quo. The three mindsets of the right hemisphere are:

  • Developing: Organization policy and structure
  • Performing: Quality, cost and ROI
  • Protecting: Collaborative culture, high-performing talent, succession planning

Just as you need to balance short-term goals with long-term opportunities, the Yin and Yang of these hemisphere focal points are continually shifting. Walking the tightrope between them requires wise decisions based on clear insights into present circumstances and an awareness of past traditions. With those in place, you can look forward to a sustainable future.

Remember that wise decision-making about hitting a single home run. Instead, it’s about effectively juggling various options and making the right decision in a way that will deliver results the right way.

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Jane Anderson

I love the way you describe the activities in each hemisphere of the brain. A few days ago I was trying to explain this to someone because I find it fascinating and so helpful to know how problem solving is really a merging of different parts of our brain. You explain it well. Thank you for this.

Larry Tyler

I love the three mindsets I have always felt that way but lacked the words to spell it out. It truly makes sense. Thank you Mary. Great advice for the decision makers.