Understanding the Source of Leadership for the 21 st. century

by Christian Kurmann

What do we need to do to take the wealth of external incentives and change these to intrinsic values? Brain research has shown us that the secret of success is the development of human beings growing by and within themselves.



The era of new leadership for the 21st century has begun, desperately needed because humanity, - together with science and technology with its tremendous diversity , has not yet managed to defeat famine, misery, inequality, fair and equal education and learning, political conflicts, the status of the women, global ethics and and perhaps many more issues.

More and more start to realise that we need to re-think the way we look at leadership to determine how we can cultivate a better, mindful tomorrow, asking ourselves what is required to establish a renewable world with sustainable landscapes, a harmonic, balanced global society – something we all desire, but which has not been fulfilled so far. To the contrary, the attempt to increase rationality, complexity, multiplicity and efficiency to cultivate a new reality of life and perhaps a new idea of living, is increasingly questioned, as we are seeing significant global problems we can no longer ignore. We have all been on a constant search for more; it is those previous paradigms that are no longer simple to comprehended, as these complex problems and conflicts have not been resolved under current circumstances.We have researched, created, developed and improved, but even so, we remain with our entrenched thought patterns and current problems unresolved. In fact, it is our digital communication media that demonstrates these daily problems, stirring us up, making us dependent and more ignorant more than ever before. 

So the call for re-thinking is getting louder, more clamouring. But this rethinking is not simple. Why?To be able to re-think we need to question our previous thoughts. Our ideas and beliefs are not simply anchored in our brain, they are also coupled with our emotional centres which are responsible for the regulation of our basal body functions.  It is a little a bit as if we feel like we are being ripped apart: every time someone offers us something nice or we feel comfortable and convenient, hat has been changed or taken away from us. That feels uncomfortable and is painful. Therefore, it is only with our profound thought patterns that we can cultivate this inner conviction, whenwe are enthusiastic or feel comfortable doing things – not because it feels good. This conviction is deeply rooted in our brain so that it is feels right and good, offering deep security making us safe.It is perhaps those settings in our brain that cause our beliefs to be stuck, rutted in certain thought patterns. We become so anchored, so mired, that we just cannot imagine anything else otherwise. These are unthinkingly, unwittingly passed on into our entire thinking, which are also being transmitted to those in our social environment, like our children, whether it is by our anger, our insecurity, our worries, our anxiety and our fear, or even by our joy, our affection, our love and our pleasure.

In other words if we do entrench these thought settings over several generations, we make progress using connections, convictions and responsibilities as an individual, using the pursuit of wanting to become more competition. The high ride and comparing as well as endless, energetic expectations, and thereby the obligations and responsibilities that dissolves recklessly, blind to everything feasible which is what one destroys, while pursuing only its own objective, the idea that everything becomes an integral part of our world view and perhaps our human image. This is a very limited way to look at and life and leadership.Now how do we get released from this thinking pattern? Should we succeed simply because we get out of this situation? This requires that we also feel differently, becoming empathic, intuitive and self-aware. So why does it not work? Why is it all so very difficult? Why can we not get relief from retracted patterns easily? After all, isn’t that the kind of thinking with which we are born?

Because it is in our thinking that we transport our tightest environment (partner, family, children, friends) when we are not aware what the consequences will be of experiencing this kind of behaviour when we are worried, anxious, negative, or becoming bitter about ourselves and others, which we then transport, receive and cultivate within us and disseminate to others closely associated with us.Interestingly, in a recent study, six month old of babies were set in front of a screen.


The following observations were made:

1. Sequence

Imagine, there was a mountain with a small yellow man who crawled up a hill, exhausted when he finally arrived at the summit.

2. Sequence

Imagine, there was a mountain with a small yellow man who crawled up the hill, exhausted near the summit, when suddenly a small green man appeared who helped pull up the small, yellow man to the summit. Both men shared the enthusiasm and joy of the accomplishment.

3. Sequence

Imagine, there was a mountain with a small yellow man who crawled up the hill, exhausted, and suddenly a blue man appeared who pushed down the yellow men viciously, not wanting him to reach the summit.

4. Sequence

After all the sequences were shown to the babies, they were placed around a table. The same small green men and the same little blue men were placed in front the babies. Now, babies at this very young age do not rationally understand what they do not like; their intuition makes them feel what is good and what is not. Not surprising, they took the small green men instead of the blue ones. All the babies, at six months old, took the small green men – those who were the supporters, the ones who cooperate with each other. Cooperation is deeply rooted in our genes, a survival instinct.

The fact is, we are not born as narcissistic leaders, brutal, arrogant egomaniac nor did we ever become ego-driven decision makers intentionally. It is likely that organisational systems (relationship, friendship, organisation, the closest environment or society) have contributed and created them. As a matter of fact, we leave it entirely to our closest environment to condition us and each other, believing that we have no choice, understandable as we seek security, love, closeness, and inspiration from childhood on, as a way of strengthening our sense of belonging and cohesion.

These are the deepest intrinsic insights, because it is in our profoundest genes to cooperate with others.  But as adults we have replaced these natural attributes with status, image, prestige, authority, title, position, control and hierarchy and vigorously defend these instead. We firmly believe that having more knowledge, more ability and more intelligence will bring about more cohesion. But unfortunately, that is illusionary. What is lacking is the intellect that assists us in todays complex, intensive and fast pace.

5. Sequence

After one year, the same babies were invited again. Again, the same scenario was carried out as during the past four sequences. The troubling finding was that all babies when presented with the three colours of men again, chose the blue little man, the one who pushed down the yellow, little man. What had happened over those next six months?

What had these babies absorbed over the twelve consecutive months to be influenced to choose the little, blue men instead? This demonstrates that we are stuck with the way we think: these babies simply observed and adapted their behaviour to their peers and parents, as babies orient themselves towards the ones to whom they are closest and with whom they have united and bonded. This means humans do everything to cultivate their bonding. This gives them a certain feeling of solidarity and security. But for young, unexperienced humans such as babies and young children, it is unhealthy behaviour to grow up in such a world, believing this is how they must orient themselves. Within any organisational system, cluster, group, family or any sort of relationship anyone who has managed to enforce vigorously and successfully within an intimate, social relationship network, does so at the expense of the weak and the helpless, a high price for everyone.

That means babies and children are always governed by those who are successful, though this isn’t necessarily the right or ideal situation for them. Babies, children and unexperienced youngsters come into the world with an incredible propensity for openness, freedom of movement and warmth, because these are not genetically programmed. This enables one to be different within the human brain to co-opt. The human brain enables us to equip with all, necessary functions we need, - because we have far too many neurons in the brain during birth; in fact, the brain has got 30% more neurons after giving birth again. Our genetic brain cell programmes have simply slightly overestimated their capacity. That is why since birth, we carry two essential consideration criteria within ourselves during our lifespan: development and bonding. These two criteria are the most important for the 21st. century. Leadership. We may want to us ask ourselves what do we need to do to initiate and incorporate these two criteria in our leadership, organisational behaviour and management processes.

We carry a surplus of neurons since birth, but these are destroyed during the first few months when we are still a baby; it is this incredible glut of brain cells which actually enable us with the capacity to re-think, but we need a profound reason or purpose, which deeply connects to us and gives us trust, loyalty and enthusiasm. So it's not the sensation of euphoria and certainly not the extrinsic incentives, which enable us for this proportioning thinking. It is simply passion, conviction and enthusiasm. And these can only be cultivated, if we feel secure and are bonding within a serene environment.
It is mainly the development and solidarity which strengthens this curiosity system, that which we call ‘dopamine’. It is this system which ensures that we have experiences to ‘discover and create’, showing us that when we receive recognition, our inner-self is touched and therefore we feel freely autonomous and safe. It is the binding system that cultivates within the ‘oxytocin’ experience before birth and enables us to survive – if there are sufficient levels of security, love, safeness, inspiration and serenity within any system.

Later, as adults, we experience and cultivate ‘development and solidarity’ as we did when we were embryos and maintained during pregnancy, which is deeply linked into ourselves. During our life, we experience conditioning by our mother, our parents or grandparents, and perhaps later by our teachers and possibly our superiors and organisation or institution, who all create this enormous inner uncertainty and disconnectedness within us. This bears significant consequences in our adult life because we have been conditioned, not the way we thought we have to be, but quite the opposite, the way others believed we had to be. This presents a tremendous obstacle for any leader or superior in their leadership career.

To be excluded from a community or regarded as a black sheep leads to the same sort of feelings in the brain that contributes tremendous pain, when we have to endure, physical pain in any sort of relationship, when our own body is disrupted. That hurts – and that’s why a solution must be found. Therefore, it is essential that we do not raise babies and young children with multi-media, unnecessary toys, excessive television watching, feeding them sweets and unhealthy breakfasts and promoting other external factors, believing that they can cultivate their own inner security and capture a feeling of bonding.

But as adults, we now no longer understand what is important to us, so we think that intelligence leads to success. This means more knowledge, more learning opportunities and eventually having higher expectations so that supposedly the economy becomes fitter to serve. It is believed that it is the right system that ultimately only leaders and decision-makers should praise minorities to shine, as they are the only potential candidates for the economy of tomorrow.

But small children, youngsters and adults cannot stand forever under such circumstances, as it by far too painful to sustain. Hence we need something that we initiate, a shift to overcome this sort of situation, to better endure. Otherwise we get what we do not necessarily need. Every time we are succeeded by such symptoms, we think it makes us happy as we are awarded by extrinsic motivations such as salaries, bonuses, stakes and other monetarily systems to receive recognition. This eventually drives a wrong inner inspiration, not driven by purpose but solely by a meaningless award system.

Whenever we can inspire ourselves with the neuro-plasticity neurotransmitters we are released, as this feels almost like fertilizer for the brain. It is these neuro-plasticity neurotransmitters which bring the neurons via a receptor that induces the same sort of intention as if when we mediate. This entices us to a denser form and perhaps a new sequel, making new contacts and intensifying our network, improving our relationships within any systems which produce the nerve cell proteins. These proteins are among the ones which are very rare to reproduce, but which are essential for connecting with others.

At the end of the day, it is deeply rooted enthusiasm that emits a good feeling when we sense a connection of belonging and development. Therefore it is pointless to consider external motivational mechanisms. These are applied to motivate our instincts and impulses, but only for a short period of time, and do not produce any sort of purpose and meaning.

Edvinas Grisinas