We observe that managers can be intelligent and ignorant at the same time. They sometimes act very smartly yet they can be very inconsiderate too. So, how is it possible that leaders can excel in one situation and do dumb things in another situation?
To better understand this, we compared the competencies that are needed for operational and strategic management. Operational activities comprise competencies such as structuring, organizing, logical thinking, working orderly and detailed, follow processes and procedures. Strategic activities entail experimenting, vision, insights, intuition, seeing trends and patterns, integrating, synthesizing, and making projections.
Now imagine that a manager has a brain that is dominantly hard-wired for the operational competencies. That could explain why that particular manager will face difficulties when contributing to strategic planning sessions, especially in the stages of creative brainstorming and design thinking.
On the other hand, a leader with strong strategic competencies could block the implementation activities of that strategy. This happens when his/her brain is not hardwired for operational activities.

Talent is hardwired in the brain

Many managers are not aware of their individual strong talents when it comes to problem-solving, innovation, and decision-making. A talent can be defined as “the desire to practice” as defined by Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers. Human beings simply cannot stop their talent, as it is a natural capacity that is hardwired in the individual brain.
Often individual managers do not realize this and try to adapt to the requirements. The gap between operation and strategy can be big in organizations. Also, in most corporate cultures, it is “not done” to say as a manager that you are not capable of managing certain processes. That is how situations arise that a manager can be intelligent and ignorant at the same time.

The good news

The good news is that both types of managers, the operational- and the strategical type, can be successful in all situations. They achieve more success when they intentionally use the lessons from the Whole-brain® concept. Being successful starts with the awareness of th diversity in personal brain preferences. From there they can actively contribute to engagement and inclusion in the organization.

Event 9 and 10 September

Join the event “Changing Conversations for a Changing World” and sign up for our session on 10 September “Bringing diverse thinking styles together to strengthen team-relationships and results” You will find the session in the program for Day 2 (September 10th), Session number D2-S3.2, facilitators Erica Elam & Sonja Vlaar.


From this workshop you will learn:

  1. the concept of Whole-Brain® thinking
  2. about the difference for the brain between operational and strategic thinking
  3. how Whole-Brain thinking can enhance communication and team-collaboration
  4. how to improve (team-)learning with diverse brain styles
  5. why you get results that lead to 1+1 = 3

HBDI– Assessment®
Read here more about the assessment