Sunday, March 20, 2011

Are you solving puzzles or mysteries?

To be a successful leader on an international stage you have to be extremely curious. Sure, you must have great technical skills, understand cultures and languages and excel at virtual leadership capabilities, but having a healthy curiosity brings it all together.

I’ve shared this time and time again and drive it into the international organization I now lead. While I knew it to be true, I did not have a firm basis for my belief. While reading Malcolm Gladwell’s latest release this weekend (“What the Dog Saw and other adventures”) it all came together. The Million-Dollar Murray chapter discusses in depth the different between solving a puzzle and solving a mystery. Gladwell’s theory suggests that solving “puzzles are transmitter dependent and mysteries are receiver dependent.” One of Gladwell’s examples was the difference between Watergate (Deep Throat was the transmitter) and Enron (reporters and analyst were the receivers and found the issues in the public accounting statements).

For the international leader, this means a successful business relationship is not as simple as reading a book. It involves taking the huge amount of disparate data points and painting the successful approach. It is your role as the leader to interpret what you are given.

As a leader, do you try to solve puzzles or focus on mysteries?

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