Leadership: Simply Thinking Different

by Christian Kurmann

At some stage, we must recognize that leadership, and the way leaders think, must change.



At some stage, we must recognize that leadership, and the way leaders think, must change. Perhaps for many this change seems too early, but the time will come when we must rethink with certainty, because there won’t be many options left.

There’s no doubt that with our scientific discoveries and our ever-expanding knowledge, we have managed to move far beyond the medieval era, with life becoming increasingly easier and more comfortable for most of us. But not all has improved as we have hoped, and we haven’t solved all challenges, even with magnificent scientific discoveries and explorations: social inequality, hunger, misery and squalor remain, and social transformations, which at the end  have not been fulfilled, remains a simple illusion and probably one of the biggest challenges ever for the next centuries to come.

While the attempt to improve life -- with higher expectations, stricter comparisons and constant striving for more, further and higher -- appears to more and more people around the world as an absolute utopia, nevertheless, we continue to rely on an old-fashioned pattern: short-term profit maximisation.  For the past few decades, while we have been striving for the endless ‘complexity’ and ‘short-term growth’, we are no longer even aware of the enormous pressure we are putting on ourselves.


Surely, we have achieved many grand things so far, and yet we are continuing with this old-fashioned mind-set, one that rendered us increasingly perplexed by our thought, because the modern means of communication and information somehow keep us from moving beyond our own ‘comfort zone’.


It is no wonder that we fail to muster courage, clarity, self-awareness and compassion, because we do not allow ourselves to be clear anymore. This confusion leads to dependency and ultimately mires us in global loneliness, despite billions of people on this earth, because we try to compensate with increased consumption, excessive attention and forced recognition. But deep, deep within ourselves, our ‘self’ feels that this is wrong.

Now, our inner voices are clamouring louder and louder that we must consider a rethinking of leadership. But this rethinking is not that simple, as we find it difficult to overcome our inner fears and anxieties and therefore we find it easier to just accept things the way they are – and continuing, and continue, and continue. To rethink, we must be in a position to examine everything that we have thought so far. Our beliefs are not simply anchored in our brain, but are also coupled with our emotional centres responsible for the regulation of our basal body functions in the brain. That is why we feel fear when we lose something or need to let go of things that we have held onto for so long: we are convinced these things provide us with security and stability, as they allow us to feel good for a short period of time, giving a sense of security, safety, satisfaction, serenity and inspiration. So, what we perceive as a loss or a charge often tears us apart, even when we are able to acknowledge that they are no longer serving our meaningful purpose. In fact, it is only with deep grounded unconditional enthusiasm, that we will be capable of releasing deeply rooted patterns of thought that are anchored in our brain. 

The more we are convinced that we are our best selves by focusing on the ‘short-term’, we continue to protect the model of ‘short-maximisation’ not realising that we are actually destroying all things, mercilessly and blindly. Promoting and making everyone believe that everything is possible and feasible at any given time has now become a fundamental global mantra, an essential component of today's way of looking business, life and relationships, and the way we presently thinking in regard to leadership.

If we regard the consequences now, we must ask this: how do we break out of these patterns? Well, if we are to succeed in thinking differently, we have to feel differently, and only then we can we think differently. This means being the way we are and not the way others want us to be.


We have to wrestle seriously with this profound question. Why let this transformation rest untackled? Why is it so hard? How is it possible that we have accepted of ourselves to think in such a way?


Often, we are blithely unaware of how strongly we are manipulated by external patterns, which are then transported to our deepest inner ego, telling us to avoid cooperation and neglect cultivation of togetherness. Instead, we continue living as individual survivors suffering from the tremendous pace, insane complexity, unrealistic expectations and competitive thinking. That is why adjusting helps us to survive, and this is the only way that is purposeful.

It is serenity and security and safety that make us capable of surviving and adapting during very difficult situations.  To experience such a state, we must cultivate ‘stillness’. But because we feel scared to confront within us, afraid of exploring the unknown of our inner self, the true place of security and direction, we simply accept and cling to what we know, even though it is just our perception and belief system for preventing insecurities. We fail to realise that we actually avoid the root of our deep thinking of how we must learn to learn differently, and then how we must incorporate this new and different thinking within our families, education, organisations and throughout society.  At the end of the day, adapting means surviving and this requires curiosity and passion.

The fact is, none of us is born a narcissist, an aggressive, reckless egocentric, or a stranger to the world: it is the environment that shapes us to become that way. Perhaps we now understand what systemic thinking means: we must release our tight cling to our old knowledge and old-fashioned thinking. We must believe in strengthening our belonging and bonding, which, of course, is always absolute.


Edvinas Grisinas