How Global Leaders Think

Leaders standing in front of a graphic globe
Share This Post:

In a complex world, leadership is about more than just what you think – it’s about how you think. A new comprehensive study of the thinking preferences and work elements of CEOs across Europe, Asia-Pacific, and the Americas reveals key trends in the mental work activities of global business leaders. These insights can inform and enhance your own development strategies.

So, how do we develop leaders?

Don’t miss this intriguing
webinar from HRDQ-U

Don’t miss this intriguing webinar from HRDQ-U

How Global Leaders Think: Development Strategies from New Research

3 Ways to Develop Leaders

Thinking Agility

This approach focuses on honing leaders’ abilities to adapt their thinking to different situations rapidly. It involves teaching leaders to analyze complex problems from multiple perspectives, make decisions effectively under pressure, and quickly adjust strategies in response to changing circumstances. Thinking agility encourages leaders to embrace uncertainty and ambiguity, enabling them to navigate dynamic environments with confidence and resilience.

Cognitive Agility

Cognitive agility emphasizes enhancing leaders’ cognitive skills and mental flexibility. It involves training leaders to expand their cognitive capacity, improve their information processing speed, and strengthen their memory and attention. Leaders develop the ability to learn new concepts quickly, think critically, and synthesize diverse information to generate innovative solutions. Cognitive agility equips leaders with the mental agility needed to tackle challenging problems and make sound decisions in fast-paced environments.

Innovation Thinking

Innovation thinking focuses on fostering leaders’ creativity and ability to drive innovation within their organizations. It involves cultivating a culture of experimentation, risk-taking, and continuous learning. Leaders learn to encourage creativity and idea generation among team members, promote a mindset of exploration and curiosity, and embrace failure as a stepping stone to innovation. Innovation thinking empowers leaders to envision new possibilities, challenge the status quo, and spearhead initiatives that drive organizational growth and success.

Leadership Styles

From a poll in Ann Herrmann-Nehdi’s webinar, How Global Leaders Think: Development Strategies from New Research, participants responded to the question, “For you, what is the ‘ideal’ leadership style?”

Nearly all the participants replied, and here are their responses:

  1. Receptive, Enthusiastic, Expressive, Empathetic, Passionate (41%)
  1. Organized, Disciplined, Practical, Industrious, Persistent (11%)
  1. Analytical, Realistic, Intellectual, Objective, Knowledgeable (11%)
  1. Holistic, Imaginative, Synthesizer, Curious, Flexible, Open (38%)


Recognizing that individuals process information differently, it becomes evident that effective leadership requires an appreciation for diverse thinking styles. The brain’s inclination towards pattern recognition reinforces the need for leaders to understand and leverage the unique cognitive preferences of their team members, fostering an environment where diverse perspectives can thrive and contribute to innovative solutions.

Author Carol S. Dweck said, “Even if you can learn new things, you cannot change how intelligent you are.” She also said, “No matter how intelligent you are, you can always improve – for some, to a large extent.”

For more information on the different leadership styles and how to become a global business leader, watch Ann Herrmann-Nehdi’s webinar, How Global Leaders Think: Development Strategies from New Research.

Recommended Webinar
How Global Leaders Think: Development Strategies from New Research

Discover the thinking and work activities of global leaders. Learn how to apply the findings to inform your own development strategies.

HRDQ-U Webinar | How Global Leaders Think
More HRDQ-U Blog Posts

Human Resources: Then and Now
We read so much about putting the “human” back in Human Resources.

When you are in a management role or position, it’s important to have the skills to be a successful leader,

Related Topics
Career development
Career Development
Business coaching webinar
Creativity and innovation skills training
Creativity and Innovation
Webinar customer service
Customer Service
How Global Leaders Think
Decision Making
Diversity and inclusion webinars
Diversity and Inclusion
How Global Leaders Think
PM webinars
Project Management
Log In