There are individual, organizational, and societal human and technological approaches available today. However, there is little integration of these dimensions into a coherent mindset, educational concept, or cooperative platforms. Therefore, I’ve dedicated the last couple of years to the study of leadership, learning & development, psychology consequently from cross-culturally, multi-disciplinary, and inter-generationally cooperative perspectives. And I’ve performed intensive testing of a, as I think, new discovery of a pattern of the human mind, which I’m calling the ‘Tripod Mindset (TM).’ I have found that three logic matrix-derived socio-temporal conditions put together to a “tripod” mindset would eliminate random, imbalanced, and unconnected ways of traditional and contemporary human thinking in favor of more healthy attitudes and drive for positive human evolution.
Tripod Mindset (TM) Highlights
My background in education sciences, leadership, art, technology, and psychology have equipped me with different perspectives on individual, organizational, and socio-cultural functioning. My navigation between the philosophy of time represented by the past, present, and the future, and the intra-, inter-, and extra-personal dimensions of information and communication (technology) have led me to discover a, as far as I’m aware of, novel and lawful socio-temporal matrix in which our temporal thinking about ourselves, our relationships, and humanity consolidates.
The mapping of thousands of (scientific) resources to the matrix of aforementioned socio-temporal dimensions revealed the striking finding of three coordinates that jointly form a set of mental states that governs human psyche and thriving, which I’m going to call the “Tripod Mindset (TM).” The further study of TM as an interdisciplinary concept shall explicitly consider aspects such as the Internet as a tool for democracy and global citizenship. The time seems to be ripe for leading the way to more distributed and participative approaches including a broader range of stakeholders globally. For example, the TM can be translated into design principles, which would be informing the development of next-generation and more cooperative online platforms that integrate the intra-past, inter-present, and extra-future thought patterns necessary for progressing agile approaches and human flourishing in the virtual and physical world.
Also, the TM could be used to get a balanced view on how sustainable (from an individual and collective point of view) any kind of services and products are. Are they based on a mindset that is backward oriented, protective of the status quo, or facilitating innovation? What does each of these temporal aspects mean for the individual, the team, and the broader communities’ respectively the human context? The consistent integration of such a coherent “tripod”-stabilized mindset view will guarantee not losing sight of all that is important for true next-generation solutions.
There are many apt formulations, and rich collections of human qualities proposed to be packaged into so-called mindsets that are deemed to be favorable for individual well-being, organizational performance, or societal functioning. However, looking at worldwide suffering, competitive challenges, and societal issues, there is, apparently, still a lot missing regarding a more holistic, systematically consistent, and continuous awareness that leads to positive human behavior. Technology progress, for example, may enable positive change, but it will not be without a change in human mindset that an improved development and use of technology will occur. The Tripod Mindset (TM) has the potential to inform a new type of guiding principles in sociology/psychology, education, communication, and technology with a disruptive impact on how humanity’s collective mindset, and participative and cooperative policies and economies further develop.
This article reflects on example biases that could impact one’s intercultural behavior and decision making and how the role of the media is shaping ideas about cultures. Finally, specifics of the European culture are analyzed as relevant for global talent management issues.
Culture is an unconsciously learned way of thinking and living of a particular group of people that reinforces that worldview through its in-group similarity . To change ‘cultural DNA’ requires time, although the term refers to a psychological instinct built through the adaption of societal norms rather than through a genetic constitution. Different environmental challenges brought up intellectual orientations, which cannot be judged; they are just different. While empathy is considered to allow understanding between people, the bridges built between some may be the boundaries for others. This risks to cement in- and out-group hierarchies . Besides empathy, enhanced critical thinking abilities are necessary to unveil moral subjectivity and contribute to increased cross-cultural understanding .
Humans everywhere have the same desires, fears, and motivations . Cultural differences shouldn’t be judged but seen rather relative  and therefore not to be blamed . Judgments can unavoidably happen from unconscious biases triggering stereotypical exaggeration, or simplification out of context that result in prejudices. These are not immutable though in the sense that between bias and action critical thinking was not possible . People have a psychological tendency to accredit more humanness to oneself than to others  The level of empathy is predictive of the strength of this in-/out-group bias . Research found that more collectivist cultures show stronger empathy for in-group members . If in an individualist culture, an individualistic mindset is activated though, all but the self may be considered as out-group members . Contact with other cultures is the best means to anticipate such bias  and relationships with outgroups potentially reduces prejudice .
Be it for peace between countries or the functioning of multi-national organizations, intergroup empathy has become an increasingly important global challenge . How balanced the media selects and presents its news is playing a vital role in shaping the cross-cultural understanding of individual, group, and societal identities. Media literacy, therefore, is a key strategy to develop cultural perspective-taking .
Despite Europe’s diverse composition of nations, the continent’s genetic base is much less variable than that of many other global regions. Europe is (to stay with the example) characterized by high in-group equality, which, on the other hand, may also degenerate into out-group domination. European leaders tend to be inclusive . Indeed, German SME’s, for example, include all or most of the employees in Talent Management practices, which is in contrast to typical multinational enterprises . Egalitarian attitudes within Europe cause leaders to backup leadership processes with bureaucratic rules that come with a loss in speed compared to other cultures. The European focus on individual rights, creativity and innovation, professional relationships, and the use of evidence-based data (in comparison to more intuitive thinking) might be an asset for fostering objectivity in global talent management practices . This is important for talent-based economies as found in Western Europe  to remain competitive in the sourcing of global talent .
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There are significant differences between leadership and management
In our contemporary world both leadership and management may be required and co-exist in different situations, but the identification and understanding of their distinguishing features is important if we want to use both of them effectively and eventually think about shifting the emphasis towards managers who are real leaders too.
Having been in diverse leadership and/or management positions in educational institutions and schools, business and consulting firms, military/public service organizations, media and communication practices, as well as leisure/sports clubs and civic movements over the last 20 years, I’ve reflected on the difference between leadership and management from many different angles. I’m always coming back to the conclusion that the concepts of leadership and management are not as related as the popular interchangeable use of the terms might suggest.
The ultimate market-participating organizational SMART goals versus dreams and visions
Like a path is leading to a different place, or a sheep can be led into a stable, human leadership can be defined as leading something or somebody towards a certain direction. It is said that leadership requires meaning; meaning that is represented and communicated through goals. Although managerial and leadership goals should always be believed to be achievable, the type of goal formation process and quality of goals themselves involved in leadership and management differs significantly .
A leader typically is self-guided by intuition and his intimate moral understanding, while a manager is hired by the board of directors pursuing shareholders interest for securing maximized return on their investments. In case of doubt or conflict, the financial interests always have to succeed over other values in a for-profit organization. Manager’s success is measured by how accurately they achieve the business goals. The more long-term, the less predictable the attainment of goals becomes. Leadership tolerates not directly measurable long-term results . Managers, in contrast, for above reasons preferably are to set short-term goals. To ensure that goals are as clear and realistic as possible, so-called SMART goals are commonly used in the corporate world, which ought to be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. Leaders may not only not have SMART goals, but even allow more vague dreams and visions that are often requiring significant imagination.
There is a difference between the concept of power based on formal authority and influence through inspiration
One broad approach is to define leadership as the interpersonal dimension of management that comprises the “ability to inspire confidence and support among the people who are needed to achieve organizational goals” (, p. 5). Frequently leadership gets confused with authority, seeing power as being based on formal roles. The formal assignments of a manager or officer let people notice legitimacy and comply with instructions because of fear of negative consequences in case of non-compliance . When saying that leadership requires power, it is, however, not this authoritarian capability of incurring costs (for example in the form of punishment) for the people who refuse to obey . Authoritarian regimes as examples of tight leadership in the form of control and prescription are generating poor results for the people. Instead, it is the ability to inspire for a voluntary fellowship by unforceful means that is resulting in individual prosperity, well-being, and peace through personal self-determination and fulfillment. Real leadership allows people self-leadership.
Leadership goes beyond the leadership aspects practiced in business administration
When the sum of the leadership structures followed by society is called culture , then the sum of management structures of market-participating organizations can be seen as the economy. Leaders create culture through the leadership structures they leave behind (, p. 11), while managers build administrations through the organizational patterns they establish. This thinking is in line with the terminology used in managerial education, where the top courses for aspiring or acting executive officers award for the title of the Master of Business Administration. Increasing parts of businesses consist of technology and digital resources, whereas human aspects tend to be further pushed into the background. Emotional and organic elements are taken out from the management of resources in favor of optimal planning accuracy. Again, although there may (but doesn’t have to) be some deal of leadership involved as well in steering a business, a real leader would never be reduced to be an administrator in that sense.
The irrelevance of leadership in the management of expectations
As Rudy Giuliani once put it, leaders first figure out what’s right, and then explain it to people, as opposed to first having people explain it and then just saying what they want to hear (, p.3). Indeed, managers tend to behave in a manner more or less in line with the management style endorsed within their country, industry or organization . Firms choose new executives whose values are consistent with their own. If an executive is not filling the role as expected, he will be replaced with somebody who adheres more closely to expectations. From that perspective it is essential to have a rider, to use this metaphor, who holds the reins of a horse put before a cart, but any other rider who follows the relatively simple rules how to guide a horse and carriage can carry them as well. You can even let a child play the carter. It can be observed that the horse’s, respectively the organization’s personality, to come back to the organizational context, is actually more important than the “leader” himself .
Leaders emerge when there is an urge for change or the need to resolve a crisis or conflict
Leadership creates change, often of dramatic dimensions, such as when completely new market dynamics are developed, societal perceptions are shifted, or more diverse cultures emerge. Management on the other hand often is concerned about maintaining predictability and order . Let’s think about why and how changes are managed in organizations. A big part of organizational administration deals with tracking changes to protect the status quo of power balances and interests of stakeholders and resources that contribute most to the profitable business. Such times of contentedness and stability are not calling for leaders whose strength is to move towards widening the range of beneficiaries. It is the time of crisis, in which leaders emerge. Managers monitor operational excellence of their subordinates typically in periods of economic strain. Charisma arises when there are heightened levels of distress among an increasing number of people that can be of not only financial but also psychological nature, constituting an individual and collective crisis of meaning that demands answers. If the problem is sought to be solved by somebody else, the ground is fertile for people to follow a leader who convincingly directs toward a comforting solution . It has to be carefully evaluated whether these promises are meaningful and serving the common good, or whether there is an overemphasis on leader-reliance for whatever reason. Leaders are also required in situations of conflict. Conflict as the opposite of leadership is characterized by the absence of a functioning leader-follower relationship, typically because of disagreements related to a common course of action .
There is little leadership required and even possible in corporations
Following the argumentation so far, it is conceivable to suggest, assuming a bit a black and white perspective, that in organizations, at ordinary times there is little leadership required and even possible. Instead, what is required is a disciplined management that administers an organization to stay on track without visioning any significant change that would require leadership. Abraham Maslow regarded leaders as self-actualizing individuals who are self-determined, independent of culture, and following their inner guidance to help their fellow humans. For a leader of such qualities a narrow corporate environment likely would be unsatisfying at least and possibly over longer or sooner and would also be ethically conflicting. Executives of big corporations have contributed to the mistrust in corporate ethics due to their perceived focus on self-promotion and excessive greed. What seems to be required is more compassionate leadership in the service of others respectively in the view of the broader society and humanity beyond an institutional context .
The difference between moral, ethics, and professionalism
Ninety-nine percent of the global wealth is controlled by the top one percent of richest people. The issue is that this causes, for example, the daily death of tens of thousands of innocent children who are left without the necessary means to survive, such as food or health care. Unfortunately, as long as it is a tolerated practice that the already highly concentrated wealth is invested almost exclusively in opportunities that further accentuate this income and wealth inequality, there is little hope that compassionate (moral) and ethical leadership will prevail. Corporate social responsibility struggles to demonstrate a positive impact on the single measure bottom-line of financial profit generation, why it remains not much more than an afterthought. On the one hand, public relations and marketing communications of organizations increasingly use language that includes terms like ‘sharing,’ ‘love,’ ‘community,’ and ‘better world for all,’ to brand themselves socially towards consumers who are willing to pay a premium for such labels. This is true even for industries such as tobacco and arms. On the other hand, corporate ethics training is poised to be mere professional instruction on how to operate within legal constraints without jeopardizing business performance. This may be diligent management to serve capital, but not leadership to improve the human condition.
Shaping the role of genuinely great managerial leadership
Again, in all kinds of organizational settings, there may be a necessary mix of administrative and leadership qualities at work, suggesting a combined role of a ‘managerial leader’ .
Maybe the understanding of managerial leadership as based on self-actualization could further evolve to increasingly focus the help of other people in the organizational context while also not losing sight of the fairness towards and the well-being of people in the broader national societal and even global humanitarian context. Importantly, we should not forget that such a broadening of the benefits of leadership requires courageous first-/early-moving followers, who lead others not to remain passive bystanders but to support change towards growth and development of all actively. Asking managerial questions for organizational survival is foundational, but without further questioning on what basis, to what extent, and at whose cost, it is difficult to see real leadership added to management. The more inclusive and compassionate questions get expanded to the scope of all humanity, the greater the leadership involved.
In the current economic and competitive context, cooperation may indeed risk losing some battles in the field of short-term inter-organizational rivalry. However, already today more than ever, genuinely great managerial leadership also can become a competitive advantage and an opportunity for priceless emotional rewards for our all well-being. I think we are on the way to return to a more overall life-relevant philosophical understanding of leadership in which everyone’s full human potential is embraced. In that sense, leadership beyond management is relevant and possible for all of us. If we all assume a managerial leadership role, we don’t need managers anymore. Let’s take the chance.
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Summary. Inabilities to accept (and therefore recognize) our dark feelings are leading us to externalize our shadow (as Jungians would say) to others, for example to a therefor loved partner. Especially vulnerable narcissists defend themselves against shameful helplessness in cases of separation with a partner (and therefore with a part of themselves) by negating their helplessness. To avoid frustration, rage, and violent defenses in case of uncontrollable separation it is, therefore, to some extent, essential to learning to live with (learned) helplessness.
Human interactions don’t lack technical but rather cooperative communication skills. The good news is that pro-social behavior can be learned. Collective argumentation is one means to scaffold learners’ engagement in group work. Also, the negotiation of values is vital for achieving a shared sense of agency and accountability between teachers and students. In computer-enabled learning, consequential engagement in the form of enabling equitability and showing the benefits beyond single contributions, as well as using game formats are promising pathways to progress cooperation in learning environments.
You were born with nothing ordinary about you, being a unique creation of human life. Through socialization though, you got assigned a social number, and you are expected to adhere to the norm. If you do the ordinary very well, you may be titled “extraordinary,” although originality, self-reliance, and personal growth requiring non-conformity would be much better indications of it.
Thank you very much for your rich and engaging letter. I would also like to stress that I love you, unconditionally.
Please take care and follow your heart, no matter what others are saying. Even if criticism between people can lead to counter criticism, I believe that “the world” in the actual/wider sense is waiting for each of us equally. I want no one to think she/he is less valuable than anyone else because there is absolutely no reason for that.