Global-ready business leaders comfortably explore the horizontal relationships of our interconnected world and the global economy. Whereas most managers are trained to think to vertically — that is, to think within the boundaries of their department, organization, and country — evolving global dynamics demand horizontal thinking. The world is flat and interconnected with lightning speed of demands and delivery. Global leaders encounter challenges that require the ability to facilitate the synthesis of multiple divergent viewpoints, across multiple different locations, into a coherent and timely solution.  

As head of Georgetown McDonough’s Global Business Initiative, I have witnessed firsthand the transformation of students as they learn to think with a horizontal mindset. Executive Master's in Leadership students, through their coursework, consulting projects, and overseas residency, experience what it means to think with a horizontal mindset and the benefits this thinking style creates. By learning “how to think,” not “what to think,” and asking the right the questions to expand the range of possible solutions beyond the confines of the familiar, our EML students become armed with the cognitive resources of tomorrow.

How does this fit with our Jesuit heritage? The Jesuits were founded with the mission of being involved and doing good in the world. Thus, for over 400 hundred years Jesuits have been a global organization, with a presence throughout the world. Being global thinkers is not new to us and has always been a core principle of a Jesuit education. Moreover, the Jesuits champion the idea of creating value by doing good. EML teaches that enduring business success goes beyond creating shareholder value. We teach “being good by doing good.” That is not a statement about charity but about sustainability. At the intersection of business and society are people and communities that must be robust and flourish for a business to succeed in the long-term. We eschew short-term corporate social responsibility efforts that look good but do not promote long-term autonomy and beneficence for the people impacted. 

The world continues to change rapidly. Advances in IT technology, energy, genomics, and health care will continue to challenge our ability to adapt in constructive and humanistic ways. We will continue to be challenged by increasing natural resource scarcity and changes to our environment. Leaders who can think horizontally and holistically about these changes and challenges will be more and more in demand in business, government, defense, health care, and technology. EML prepares students to lead on these issues, locally and globally, by asking the right questions based on how they think.

Ricardo Ernst