Smart Leaders 2026: Thinking and Innovation Skills

Smart Leaders 2026: Thinking and Innovation Skills

Innovative companies are built by innovative leaders. In today’s unpredictable, hyper-competitive business world, if you’re not one of them then your enterprise is destined to falter. The task of keeping abreast or ahead of competitors has never been more difficult – CEO turnover is increasing in the post-pandemic era as the performance bar is being raised (The Globe & Mail). Owners and boards are now asking whether they have “the right skills” in the C-suite for current strategic imperatives and, in consequence, the pace of executive transitions is the highest since 2008. The Harvard Business Review reports that “businesses are disappearing faster than ever.” Unbridled pride in your thinking and innovation skills may be the road to your own departure.

The problem most leaders face is attempting to solve today’s problems with yesterday’s thinking. Organizations live or die on the ability of their leaders to think outside the box, become less risk averse and better equipped to solve the big issues confronting the enterprise. This unique, time-tested learning experience has been offered to hundreds of executives across the country over the past two decades. It’s re-engineered yearly to keep up with the perilous demands they confront almost daily. The testimonials from prior attendees are all you need to read to understand why this program can expand the competencies required to survive and thrive in an increasingly disruptive business environment. The bottom line: You can’t build innovation capacity and transform your company without first transforming yourself. Do you have the mindset to navigate unforeseen obstacles, align new priorities, deal with inevitable setbacks and leverage the thinking skills of followers?

Thinking differently and more effectively is the key to success in everything you’ll ever do. Brainpower isn’t the issue – you were born with intelligence. But having it and knowing how to use it are entirely different things. Those who’ve mastered only one way of thinking, as most executives have by virtue of their particular professional calling, are especially vulnerable to the radically different challenges we face today. To lead in an exponentially changing and error-prone world, we must strengthen our capabilities as risk-takers and innovators. As Steve Jobs once observed, “innovation is what distinguishes a leader from a follower.” Because they’re ‘plugged into’ the future and know how to reframe old-paradigm strategies into new-world breakthroughs.

We were taught how to be good analytical thinkers but not creative problem solvers. This skill is neither a gift nor a consequence of magical inspiration. It’s the mindset of a smart leader. Knowledge confines us to what is; imagination – the brain’s navigational system – opens us up to what could be. When you have a bigger and proven toolbox for reframing difficult challenges, you will find better answers. Extraordinary leaders are just ordinary people who can think differently under the incessant pressure of evolving stakeholder expectations. Prior attendees have said unequivocally that this program changed how they lead. Because it changed how they think. It’s offered once a year with a limited enrollment – don’t be disappointed.


Leaders (or those who aspire to lead) who seek to liberate their genius and that of their workforce. The most significant competitive advantage you’ll ever possess is the ability to think on all cylinders. “It’s rare to find a CEO who doesn’t want their organization to be more innovative, yet very few know how to achieve this vision” (The Harvard Business Review). The bottom line: innovative companies are led by innovative leaders. Are you? Your legacy lies not in what you know, but in what you do with what you think you know.


  • It forced me to better understand who I am and where I have weaknesses in my thinking. I feel far more confident in trying new techniques with my staff/company to generate creative solutions that resolve a number of current problems. My new understanding of frames of reference will force me to better understand others’ points of view and better appreciate their input rather than being so judgmental based on my own frame of reference.
  • It provided me with a framework to approach tough problems and the tools to work on same that will enhance my productivity and effectiveness. It also renewed my desire to invest in continuous learning.
  • You provided me with the tools to employ when I hit “the wall.”
  • I obtained the thinking tools needed to instill a culture of innovation within the organizations I lead. I gained insights into my blind spots, biases and in-the-box thinking – a humbling experience. One recurring theme for me is take the time to focus on what is truly important.
  • It forced me to think about thinking; to think about what I want, where I want to be and how I am going to get there (both professionally and personally); about what I will do when I do get there and even about what I will do if I don’t get there.
  • I feel energized and invigorated and ready to try a few new ideas. I now recognize the importance of pushing one’s self to achieve new heights. I enjoyed the opportunity to hear and benefit from the wisdom you have learned – distilled from your vast experiences.
  • It challenged my belief in myself. You get to think over time that your direction and way of working is “the way forward.” This course makes you reflect on inner confidence, then provides a way to re-direct that confidence in a more constructive and productive manner.
  • The pre-course work was almost as valuable as the course itself  because it forced me to answer some very important questions about my work and family/life issues. You gave me a better understanding and many tools to look at these problems differently.
  • It opened my mind to new ideas and approaches to use with people in my work. I am now more aware of the flaws in my thinking and can better see the issues that hold me back personally and professionally. I now see new opportunities before me where previously I only saw closed doors.
  • The extreme value I derived from this course goes beyond leadership – it will affect how I observe, listen, analyze and react with my peers. I came to learn how to “think differently.” Not only was that objective fully satisfied but it went beyond by showing me how to see different colours and shapes in the box. Highly enjoyable. (The only way to improve this course is to make it longer.)
  • You showed me the value of allowing myself to change my point of view, take the time to explore possibilities, to pause … and ask questions. You reminded me that it is better to allow others to solve problems than to provide them with the answers.
  • It opened my eyes to some preconditioned behaviours I need to address that have affected my decision making and how I view the world. It also confirmed some things I suspected about myself which are positive and that I can build upon.
  • I now better understand how much potential I have just by better using my brain. I especially enjoyed your holistic approach (including health, sleep and nutrition). I now better understand why people think so differently and I have a rich resource to draw from.
  • I was a captive of my analytical approach to solving problems. I rarely sought out the questions that would change that frame. While also humbling, this course has made me a better leader simply because my ability to ask questions and actually listen has forever changed.
  • Great course – I enjoyed every minute of it. You’ve given me the tools to solve problems, help others solve their problems, a process for introducing innovation to our centre, ideas about how to solve my personal issues and a list of great reference materials.


This program has been re-engineered and rebuilt into a webinar series to be offered in March, 2023. It will be offered over the course of three weeks (with a “semester” break in between) and consists of six three-hour webinars. Registration is open to anyone regardless of location. The curriculum for this redesigned online learning experience is as follows:

The Mind and Genius of a Smart Leader
❏  How thinking determines how you lead
❏  VUCA: Old world vs. new world realities
❏  Linear vs. exponential growth & disruption
❏  The four things that will “rock your world”
❏  How artificial intelligence will impact you
❏  Analytics, intelligence, risk and leadership
❏  Five minds for the future: What matters
❏  Integrative thinking: The Smart Leader thesis

Thinking Styles: As We Think So Shall We Become
❏  Perception: How the brain makes up its own reality
❏  The hard truths about creative & analytical thinkers
❏  Why we have such difficulty solving big problems
❏  Head vs. gut: Understanding our internal conflicts
❏  How & why we adopted a preferred thinking style
❏  Cognitive tendencies that lead to really bad decisions
❏  The tricks our brains play on us & the consequences
❏  Levels of leadership: You’re not where you think are
❏  The critical biases that take us down the wrong path

Overcoming the Constraints to Creative Thinking
❏  What separates the creatives from the non-creatives
❏  Getting “beyond the box” – the biggest impediment
❏  Our self-imposed limitations: Small-cage thinking
❏  The neurobiology of fear and how to overcome it
❏  Neurology 101: Understanding the brain’s hardware
❏  Our navigation system: Cultivating imagination & insight
❏  Intelligences: The eight that every leader must acquire
❏  Intuition: The source code of brilliant business decisions
❏  Training the brain: How to speak to it & make it listen

Fostering Workforce Resilience and Innovation
❏  Why Canadian companies are especially bad at it
❏  Judgement: An idea killer or an idea generator?
❏  Why innovation is over-hyped and misunderstood
❏  Rooting out dogma, groupthink & culture antibodies
❏  Why success contains the seeds of its destruction
❏  Auditing innovation DNA & overcoming paradoxes
❏  Building & managing an open & adaptive culture
❏  The six steps of innovation: From origin to execution
❏  How to design, develop & evaluate a business proposal
❏  The art & magic of the pitch: How to sell “any” idea

Thinking Tools and Problem-solving Techniques
❏  Why do we need tools to find brilliant new ideas?
❏  A simple, effective, better way to solve any problem
❏  The upsides & downsides of group problem solving
❏  Eight group techniques: From easy to the difficult
❏  Life hacks: Nine simple ways to find great ideas
❏  One dozen (plus) structured individual ideation tools
❏  A quick pathway for analyticals to become creative

Protecting and Liberating the Power of Your Genius
❏  Brain health: Five ways to prevent cognitive decline
❏  Aging & dementia: Will you have enough in the tank?
❏  Brain fitness: How exercise & play shapes the brain
❏  Longevity: Cognitive reserve and Alzheimer’s Disease
❏  Why top performers invest in their personal growth
❏  The nine steps to mapping your future as a leader
❏  What genius really means & how to re-awaken yours
❏  What smart leaders know that others don’t understand