The Neuroscience of Leadership Development – A practical answer to future Leadership Challenges

The Neuroscience of Leadership Development – A practical answer to future Leadership Challenges

by - Alan Caugant, CEO SUPERHUMAIN™

Leadership is one of the most challenging roles of one’s life. It takes a dizzying skill set, good education, and passion. In my understanding, when we become leaders, we do it because we want to change something. And most of us are used to the fact that it’s okay for a leader to work 12 hours, sacrifice their personal life, and take the roller coaster of success and failure.

However, the busyness that comes with 24/7 non-stop leadership often distracts leaders from what matters and restricts their ability to be genuinely productive.

In reality, if you analyze your working day and be honest with yourself, you have to admit that instead of effectively doing OUR work, we are “putting out fires” and wasting time.

Does it have to be like this? Fortunately, the answer is no.

Why is neuroscience important in leadership ?

Understanding how the mind works can help us explain why some leadership styles are more effective than others. In the area of talent development as well as more broad business functions where there are teams and reporting structures, neuroscience can help bring to light questions such as why certain feedback, incentives, or threats motivate some people and discourage others.

SUPERHUMɅIN™ Neuroleadership Development programs bring the latest research on neuroscience, considering implications for learning on both the individual and organizational levels particularly relevant for talent development officers and those who are charged with attracting and retaining top talent. When we consider the challenges that leaders face today, it becomes easier to understand how is important to develop neuroleadership practices. The environment in which we live and work is continuously changing and evolving. Now time is measured in microseconds and is focused on the speed of information transfer on the Internet. Today’s companies are facing challenging new economic and resource constraints. We are connected 24/7 to a multitude of digital devices that regularly generate information flows that cause congestion and anxiety. All of this creates a sense of disunity that can shut us out of the world. The world is changing so quickly that young professionals who are just preparing to build a career may find that their career path has changed radically by the time they are ready to embark on it. One paradigm is being replaced by another.

However, it is also true that these turbulent times can provide great opportunities and prospects for innovation, including in the approach to managing organizations and people. It’s time to rethink what it means to be a leader.

Competences developed by A SUPERHUMɅIN™ Leader

So what are the qualities a whole brain leader should have? An exceptional example is founder and director of the Institute for Conscious LeadershipJanice Marturano :

« While teaching the TOPs of various companies and corporations, I found that the best qualities of leaders go far beyond the performance of job duties. The best leaders are men and women who have top-notch training, warm hearts, bright minds, a sense of their mission and a strong connection with their peers. And one more important detail – they are open to accepting any experience here and now. They strive for excellence, innovation and are not afraid of change. »

– Janice Marturano at the World Economic Forum

Nevertheless, according to Janice, these same people notice that their ability and leaership training is not enough. Even though they do their job well and achieve high results, they don’t feel like they are living their best life. And it concerns not only work but also free time from it. They think that something is missing. But why ?

The most common answer is: Stop!

There is not enough respite required to stay clear and focused, to be able to listen to yourself and others.

Obstacles to Mindfulness

How can we count on significant contact with our colleagues and partners that we need when we are so busy that all we can do is sign piles of papers, formally greet our colleagues and have time to hold all the meetings and answer everything calls? Can we count on informed leadership when we spend all day on autopilot, looking at the calendar and wondering that spring had already arrived when the New Year holidays just ended yesterday ?

And regardless of whether we are a leader among millions or a handful of people, we can no longer afford to live on autopilot, with our loved ones or in our organizations.

We can no longer afford to neglect connections with those with whom we work, whom we love, and whom we serve. We can no longer make decisions automatically, reactively, instead of responding to the situation adequately and consciously. And we need to remember again what prompted us to become a leader. We need mindfulness to lead our company and our people to great things.

To understand that multitasking and plunging into a vortex of endless routine only negatively affect our communication skills, creating disunity, you can observe people in a large office or public places. People run, on the go, frantically typing something in their gadgets, somehow managing not to bump into each other.

Or when, during a dialogue, we allow ourselves to check our smartphone regularly. There is already a particular term for this “nomophobia” . Now it is becoming the norm to stick to gadgets while meeting with colleagues or close people in a cafe, ignoring verbal contact. At such moments it seems to us that we have time to communicate with friends and solve all our issues in parallel.

However, neuroleadership says that our brains do nothing in parallel with the same degree of engagement. Some process always goes into the background. And often our friends, colleagues, relatives and friends are in the background. As a result, by loading our brains with multitasking, we get tired faster, miss a lot and do not have time to live. What is there to say about such a skill as bright and conscious leadership ?

To take the first step towards this, you need to utilize your office space more efficiently.

How to use Office Space Efficiently ?

Office corridors have always been a place of informal communication, where you can get to know your colleagues better and somehow express yourself, flashing with appropriate erudition or non-trivial humour. Valuable contacts could be made in the corridors. Physiologically, walking down the hallway of your office might be such a necessary pause for you to exhale after one meeting and tune in to another.

But very often we fly along this corridor, pumping our thumb, stroking the smartphone screen. Thus, we arrive at a new meeting, still arriving in the past.

The work on the development of the competencies necessary for the leader begins with such seemingly insignificant steps.

By realizing that you need it, you can already move on to stronger mindfulness practices that will develop in you the qualities necessary for a leader such as a discipline, patience, empathy, and creativity.

And to still educate yourself as a strong and conscious leader, and not go from a promising young employee to a tired and nervous boss, you can use the following meditation with visualization elements. It will help you shape the self-conscious leader you would like to grow up to.

Mindful Leadership Medidation

1) Start with sitting comfortably and closing your eyes. Pay attention to the rhythms of your breath. Just allow yourself to watch your breath for a while.

2) When you’re ready, remember the person you think embraces leadership qualities. It could be someone you know individually or a leader you read about or someone who inspires you.

3) Ask yourself the following questions and allow yourself some time to find the answers:

  • • Why did this person come to mind?
  • • What was it about that person’s qualities that made you think of him as a bright and charismatic leader?

4) Be patient. Give yourself as much time as necessary to find answers to questions.

5) Open your eyes, write down the answers and reread them. Were there such competences as “the ability to balance” or “execute the plan”. Or is your answers more like these :

  • • Clear-minded, generous, considerate, creative, patient, kind, motivating, inspiring, wise mentor, etc.

In conclusion, I want to briefly summarize the two main qualities that true mindful leaders possess:

  1. The ability to bring a team together : This means that you need to be attentive to colleagues and be able to involve them in the common story that your organization creates. This is the ability to give meaning to your own and their work, the ability to find value in the work of each member of your team. 
  2. The leader’s ability to initiate and manage change : Not only to set the task and control the execution but to carefully live all the changes with the team, being in dialogue, being able to listen and hear colleagues. Be the most here and now. It is this ability that helps a leader to take a courageous position, take the organization to the next level and accept failure as an experience that will make you stronger. 

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