Building Leaders For The Imagination Age: The Case For The i4 Neuroleader Model

Katharine McLennan
2 min read

Over the last few months, I have had the opportunity to speak to both my 30-year reunion of high school and my 20-year reunion of my Stanford MBA class. Both occasions gave me cause to reflect on how much the world has changed since 1985 and 1995, respectively.   

In 1985, President Reagan was sworn into office for a second time, Gorbachev became the de-facto leader of the U.S.S.R., and the FDA approved a blood test for AIDS. Microsoft released its first version of Windows, otherwise known as Windows 1.0. The Nintendo Entertainment System hit the U.S. shores. 

We were in a cold war between the Western and Eastern block European countries, and our KNOWLEDGE of the rising Asia Pacific rim was rather limited.

In our business schools, we were learning the art of management and capitalism, systemic approaches to organisations, complex task management, and new forms of measurement that had arrived from our Japanese competition were refining our 150-year approach in management required for an Industrial Age.  

By the time I graduated from my MBA class in 1995 in the middle of Silicon Valley, the world had changed. There were three events that marked this change in my mind:

  1. November 9, 1989 the fall of the Berlin Wall, particularly important to me as I spent two years in West Berlin as a teenager behind the wall with my father acting as the American Army liaison officer with the French-BritishAmerican-occupied West Berlin – signalling an end to the East versus West Europe and a decline in the power of the USSR.
  2. The 1994 identification of the East Asian Miracle in the growth of Hong Kong, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan: the Four Asian Tigers that signalled an end to an American-European focus for any successful global corporation.
  3. The IPO of Netscape in 1995, that signalled the first large enabler of the internet, which indicated to me the firm arrival of the Information Age.

This White Paper explains a model of leadership for our organisations faced with the challenges of the VUCA World - Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous.

Created by Silvia Damiano, this model called the i4 Neuroleader Model, after four of its pillars: Integration, Inspiration, Imagination and Intuition - equips leaders with the challenge that leadership development must be more than the cognitive behavioural changes that we have been teaching for generations.

We must also learn about the biological processes of our brain, our gut, our heart and the way we integrate our minds with the health of our bodies.

By doing so, we can perform more effectively, collaborate with others instead of achieving by ourselves, innovate and execute with an agility never pondered by our Sigma Six/Kaizen/Lean project managers. 

Originally posted on: 12 January 2016
Last updated on: 18 February 2024
Katharine McLennan

Katharine McLennan

Executive Coach & Psychotherapist
About my Brain Institute

Katharine is passionate about sharing her endless expertise and thought leadership on talent development, strategy, neurocoaching and psychotherapy.

Katharine McLennan has a career that spans corporate strategy, execution and leadership. Her specialty is facilitating executive teams in the integration of strategy, operations, team dynamics and self-transformation. Her ideas on the future of work, leadership culture and HR transformation are provocative and inspiring in seminars, speeches, or writing.

Katharine is now an executive coach and psychotherapist for a range of corporate, government and non-profit leaders of organisations. She focuses on corporate strategy, talent and psychology. She also works with individuals facing depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, and career transition.

Her corporate roles have included: Head of Strategy and HR for the Federal Government's Export Finance Australia, Vice President of People & Culture of Cochlear, Head of the QBE Global Leadership Academy and Executive General Manager, Talent and Business Unit HR for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Prior to her corporate career, Katharine spent TEN years in leadership consulting, providing advisory services on behalf of three major organisations: Heidrick & Struggles, the Mettle Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Through this work, she led projects in succession planning, CEO team strategy facilitation and executive assessment and development for ASX Top 50 clients, helping these clients to manage their internal pipeline.

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