The Superior Mindset of A Leader – The 4 Dimensional Thinking

A true leader thinks and reacts differently from the common people. When the people are in a panic and don’t know what to do, the leader stays calm and works out a course of action that is able to motivate others to go along with him. How is the mindset of a true leader different from the rest? This 4D, Four-Dimensional Thinking Framework show us how:

Here is the visual for 4D Thinking:

The Inner Circle of Vision & Execution

It begins with the inner circle of the 4D-Thinking framework. A leader must be good at ‘Visioning’ and also at ‘Execution’. Common business literature like to differentiate leaders and managers. They define leaders as the ones who are able to set the vision and goals and managers as the ones good at controlling and execution. A true leader must have both qualities of visioning and execution. He must be able to chart the course, the strategies, to arrive at the destination, i.e. achieve the targets. He must be able to execute the strategies through motivating, coaching and directing others. He must be able to monitor the progress and adapt his strategies to meet the changing environment and continue to steer the organization towards the established vision. So the inner circle is made up of the 4 steps of

  1. define the vision
  2. plan out the strategies – the popular term used now is called Design
  3. execute the strategies
  4. monitor and adapt to the changes to ensure continued movement towards the vision.

The Outer Circle of 4D – Height, Length, Breadth and Depth.

  1. Height or Positioning
  2. Length of Time & Distance
  3. Breadth of Mind and Heart
  4. Depth of Insights

1. Height or Positioning

A leader must be able to stand above the situation. He does not merely react like others but choose ‘Positivity Response‘ that is not only able to see the opportunities in the crisis but even be able to convert the threats to opportunities. He thinks above the line – i.e. to take charge rather than to blame others. He is able to be creative and encourage others to have hope and to move on.

2. Length of Time & Distance

A leader has 4 types of sights:

  1. Hind-sight that learn from the past successes and failures. He does not repeat the old mistakes. He builds knowledge bases that he could use to enhance his decision making.
  2. Far-sight to see not only the short term but beyond into the long term. He sees farther than others and is able to work out the implications and side-effects of his decision way into the future, 50 years, 100year and beyond.
  3. Fore-sight to see before what others could have seen. He defines the future before and for others.
  4. Radius(Circles) of Influence: He can see what are within his sphere of influence and what are beyond. He continues to work what he can influence to extend his sphere of influence. He does not let those outside his sphere of influence to upset him.

3. Breadth of Mind and Heart

Breadth of mind means open-minded, appreciating the different views of others, being able to listen and learn any time. He synergizes diversities rather than merely tolerate them.

He has a board-heart, a generosity that love and care for others. He develops others. He cares for right and wrong, fairness and is balanced minded, always taking into consideration the views and needs of multiple parties and coming out with innovative answers and win-wins solutions for all.  He see beyond himself, family, community and into the environment.

He has passion and the persistence to continue when others would have given up.

4. Depth of Insights

Most people just see the surface symptoms and miss out the root causes. A true leader find the root causes. He digs deep and wide to discover insights, patterns and principles. Hence, he can solve problems effectively without short and long-term side-effects

Leadership of the Whole Man

Man is tripartite being of body, mind(soul) and heart(spirit) and live in relationships to one another and to the universe. Any thinking and decision making should always have these 5 factors in mind. The 4D of Height, Length, Breadth and Depth can be apply across the factors of body, mind, heart, community/others and environment/universe. It would be a complex visual to draw and I hope you like my simplification of it as shown above. Will try to improve with time.

Lim Liat (C) 31 March 2012

(Update 4 April 2012) The Version 3.0 Chart:

For version 4 update  click here.

Rephrase A Problem Positively to Get Better Answers

The quick way to get better answers to your problem is to define it in a positive way.

We can learn good management lessons from watching Korean Serials.

In the serial, “福熙姐姐”, Fuxi was the CEO of a clothes factory. They have the problem of pilferage of buttons and other accessories. The management met to discuss how to solve the problem. Before I tell you their answer, what is the thing that you would do?

Typical answer is to have inspection of employees before they leave the factory. That was their initial suggestion. But they were concern about the implications. (This is teaching us to consider the emotional and social impact of our decisions). So they went home to think about it.

The came back with the answer:

“It is better to teach our employees to love our company than to tell them not to steal from the company”.

This is the teaching of Appreciative Inquiry, and one of the very important thing that I teach in my management and innovation classes.  Applying the “Invert” operator is a good practice to generate ideas. (see BVITS Innovative Thinking Method)

Always rephrase a problem stated in a negative way into that one that is positive.

So, change from “how to reduce employees turnover” into “how to increase employees love for the company”.

Rephrase the problem into a positive challenge open up the mind for more and better solutions than thinking in negative terms. One is to increase and we think of opportunities and the other is to stop and hence we think only of barriers.

I am very surprised to find it in a Korean Serial, but may be not. Many good Korean serials like Da Zhang Jing, Shan De Nu Wang etc have management principles in them.

Teaching life and management principles through movie and TV serials are very effective. They are the non-invasive and effortless way of learning. This leads to the 2nd principle of always communicate with a story to illustrate your point. Story touches the heart and not just the mind.

In summary, we learn three things:

  1. Rephrase the problem in positive terms to open your mind to get better answers.
  2. Use story to illustrate our ideas to touch the mind and heart of our audience.
  3. Always consider the emotional and social impact of our decisions.

One more thing, will you still implement an inspection system to catch the culprit? See Integrated View of the Wisdom of Chinese Classics.  Please shaer with me what you think.

Lim Liat (C) 9 March 2012