As the boss, have you ever “lost it” in a meeting? Even if your answer is “Of course not!” would your team agree with you?
The way we communicate determines our ability to engage, motivate and inspire creativity in our team.
Unfortunately, the skills needed to communicate effectively are sometimes lost because what we see and hear in ourselves as a leader is not always the same as what our employees experience during conversations and meetings.
By using Brain Based Learning Strategies we can develop a new understanding of our approach and the impact it has on results.
Coming to terms with how we lead is the first step to improving our effectiveness and ability to develop into a Sustainable Leader, one that can face challenges and drive his or her team to success over the long haul.
I wrote a post describing an executive coaching session with “Jeff” (not his real name) where you can see Brain Based Learning, self evaluation and creating a new mindset for improved leadership effectiveness in action:
It was “Jeff’s” (not his real name) third team meeting this week, and after this particularly long meeting he was beyond frustrated. “Why can’t they just get it right? How many times do I have to tell them what I want? Why don’t they get it? Are they that stupid? Or do they just not give a damn?” Click here to read the entire blog post at ManagingAmericans
Christina blogs as an Expert Panelist at ManagingAmericans.com[sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
Why we turn into workaholics: Innovation, inspiration & creativity inspired by teamwork IS addictive! http://blogs.hbr.org/video/2012/06/the-molecule-behind-effective.html?utm_medium=twitter
“The Neuroscience of Leadership Stress: Myths & Solutions for Busy Professionals, Managers & Executives”
“What Your Brain Wishes You Knew About Leadership Stress & 5 Simple Solutions to Successfully Do More With Less & Have Fun Doing It!”
We all experience stress and to a certain degree need it to be motivated into action. Left unchecked, even low levels of chronic stress will not only reduce your ability to solve problems and make decisions, your stress will reduce your team’s productivity and engagement. Click here to listen to the webinar replay (available for a limited time only):
Whether you see yourself as a leader (or not), have the title of CEO behind your name or have a corner office (or not), if you are in a position whereby you are responsible for managing and motivating others, you are a leader.
The fact is, no matter what our title is, all people experience stress (and to a certain degree we need stress to get motivated into action). Yet, have you ever felt overwhelmed, irritable, frustrated, exhausted or have difficulty focusing? How about physical symptoms of stress: having difficulty sleeping, increased or decreased appetite, using alcohol or prescription medication to reduce anxiety, panic attacks, high blood pressure … there’s many more.
But here’s the thing: Stress will diminish your brain’s capacity to solve problems, think creatively, make decisions, learn, reason and understand another person’s perspective? And to make matters worse, did you know stress is contagious?
Left unchecked, even low levels of chronic stress will not only reduce your ability to solve problems and make decisions, your stress will reduce your team’s productivity and engagement.
If you would like to Discover 5 Practical Solutions to Eliminate Leadership Stress, join me on Thursday, May 10th for a free webinar.
· Learn the latest discoveries in neuroscience (or brain science) about the strengths and limits of your brain (which alone might scare you into making some drastic changes in how you work).
· Discover why saying “it’s just stress” can be the end of your career more quickly than you think.
· Realize how your stress negatively impacts creativity, productivity and motivation, both your team’s and your own.
· Know how to make 5 simple changes in your day so you can get more done, more efficiently in less time than ever before
· Realize which words we use daily in our communication with others that create “fight or flight” reaction in others and which 4 words to use instead to motivate rather than deflate.
· Learn about a unique type of stress leaders experience and a brain-based solution to eliminate feelings of responsibility and helplessness that come with the job.
There will be an opportunity to submit your questions about the topic of stress and leadership prior to the workshop, as well as an opportunity for Q & A at the end.
Add your comment to this post: What is your biggest stress-related challenge today? What’s your best solution to reducing leadership stress?[sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
Yes, I said “BS.” Let’s start at the beginning:
Question: What makes a problem a problem?
Before I answer this question, how would you answer it? Think of a recent situation you’d define as a problem. Got it? Now, describe that problem. For example, “I was frustrated because I was stuck in traffic.”
What was the problem? Being stuck in traffic wasn’t the problem. Being late wasn’t the problem. Was feeling frustrated the problem? Almost. My feeling or emotion of frustration (interpreted by my brain as a negative, painful emotion) resulted in my behavior (honking my horn).
But where did THAT feeling come from? It came from BS.
Answer: Bulls*&t? Could be. Belief System (which are often interchangeable concepts). My BELIEF (or my “rule”) was that if I was late to my meeting, then I would feel pain. Was that bulls%t? Maybe, maybe not.
Recent studies in the field of social cognitive neuroscience show our human brain works harder to avoid pain than to seek pleasure. My brain was working hard, very hard. Maybe as a child being late was severely punished. Maybe I had one negative experience being late for a meeting (and feeling embarrassed or ?) which combined to create a cellular memory (or rule so I didn’t let it happen again in the future) of pain so my brain could keep me safe.
So what makes a problem a problem is the not only the negative or painful emotion attached to it, but the rule or pattern your brain created when it connected the feeling to a situation in the past and projected it into the future.
So, why is this important? Empathy. The #1 secret to keeping cool under pressure is drumming up the feeling of empathy. Because of the wiring in our brain, we cannot feel empathy and angry at the same time … the experience of empathy occurs in a different part of the brain and we can’t feel both at the same time.
Next time a peer or colleague gets upset about a situation you feel is “no big deal” and you wonder why she’s so upset, just say “it’s not her, it’s just her brain.”
Perhaps empathy on your part could subvert a potential conflict or misunderstanding and you both could get the job done more easily.
For more strategies for success, sign up for the Sustainable Leader’s Newsletter as you leave this page – your coworkers (and maybe your spouse) will thank you for it![sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
Are you paid to think? Sustainable Leaders® know that the secret to success is not only managing time, but also managing energy, is an essential practice to making great decisions, especially under stress.
Successful leaders also know being efficient with their energy is critical to their success.
The latest research in the field of neuroscience (how our brain works) describes our pre-frontal cortex as the part of the brain that’s responsible for thinking. However, since it’s relatively newly evolved, it is also very inefficient as compared to the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that stores our hard-wiring, what we can do “automatically” without too much thinking power.
David Rock, author of Your Brain at Work, describes the pre-frontal cortex as “powered by rechargeable batteries” and needs frequent re-charging, in the form of sleep, glucose (and Ill add play and fun!).
How do you know when you’re pre-frontal cortex is running on empty? Here are some common signs:
1. (More) easily distracted by sounds, visual stimuli
2. Difficulty focusing
4. Unable to make a decision
5. Unable to remember things you “should” be able to remember (like your bosses’ name)
Here’s an ironic conflict of interest. The pre-frontal cortex is responsible for higher order thinking or “executive functions” such as:
In order for us to increase the odds we are being most economical with our brain’s limited brain-power, we must take time to recharge, and make time for our self, and preserve our limited brain power.
1. Unplug/Disconnect for 10 minutes a day no cell, no tv, no radio, no computer – Turn off notifications on your phone, your Blackberry, your computer email program. Go for a walk without your phone. This is completely doable even if you are marginally neurotic.
2. Give up on perfectionism in areas where you don’t need perfection – What if you can get away with a C instead of an A? Let your friends know from now on when they receive a return email from you and see: a that means “I like it!” This might not fly for business emails. For work, do your response emails really need to win a Nobel Prize? Will “C” work be satisfactory for some things so you can save “A” work for the really important things?
3. Schedule a one minute break every hour during the busiest time of the day – Set a timer/bell at the end of every hour or pick a number between 0 to 59 and at that minute in that hour, take a one minute “bathroom” break. Take 20 deep breaths, pay attention to your breath, nothing else.
4. Practice saying “I’ll check my calendar and get back to you” instead of “Yes.” Think about how responsible you’ll feel saying this rather than irresponsible because you’ve over committed, again.
5. Schedule a 10 minute session with yourself (yes, put it in your calendar) once a day (with no deliverables) and totally unplugged. Early mornings or right before bedtime is a perfect time to reflect and think.
How do you recharge in 1 to 3 minutes at work? Reply to this blog with your suggestions and … Thanks for playing.
… I’m off to recharge with a 5 minute walk!
If you like this, click the link to sign up and get more free tools to become a leader who will be built to last here: Sustainable Leadership, Inc.[sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
Because most people will work hard to avoid conflict, productive meetings prepare participants for “what we are doing today” and encourage them to think out loud.
Bottom line is the leader must facilitate a psychologically safe environment for people to take risks.
“All ideas are accepted” and we start with only positive statements or strengths will create such an environment.
Brain science research has proven there’s an optimum 5:1 ratio: when we start a conversation with the positive, then our brain will be more open to accepting the “negative” or different opinions.
It’s like merging onto a freeway … start by going with the flow of traffic, then merge lane by lane into the fast lane is a better strategy than getting on the freeway going the wrong direction![sharebox4 sharetext=”Share This Page”] [/sharebox4]
If you are a leader in your organization (and anyone who makes a difference can be a leader), what if you were to notice opportunities to make a positive difference in another person’s self-image. What difference could you make today?
Common sense and now recent discoveries in brain science of social intelligence research, proves it: It is within a conversation in a relationship we learn and grow and our minds are shaped (ideally) to become more of who we are supposed to be. However, in many conversations we end up feeling criticized, deflated and unmotivated. Especially if that conversation happens with the boss or where there is an imbalance of power, as in a leader vs. direct report relationship.
Let’s make this practical and now take it a step further. We communicate through language (verbal, non-verbal). Stay with me now … In our conversations we influence and change our minds and subsequently our neural connections. When new neural networks and connections in our brain are made, due to neuroplasticity, our self-identity is constantly shaped and re-shaped and in turn we influence the self-identity of others. Oh, and many of us are in contact with more people and have more conversations with people at work … therefore many opportunities to create positive, constructive neural connections in not only their brain, but our own.
ScienceDaily (2010-08-27) — In the first study of its kind, researchers have found compelling evidence that our best and worst experiences in life are likely to involve not individual accomplishments, but interaction with other people and the fulfillment of an urge for social connection.
What if you were to notice opportunities to make a positive difference in someone else’s brain … what difference could you make today? Go ahead, I dare you.
Jay Politi offers a terrific summary of why Coaching with The Brain in Mind by David Rock and Linda Page is a must read for managers and leaders who want to avoid burn out and become Sustainable Leaders who are built to last.
The 5 Biggest Challenges for Leaders Today are:
1. Communicating the vision
2. Doing more with less
3. Achieving Work/Life balance
4. Resolving team conflict
5. Willingness to understand myself, my beliefs and values and
knowing how to elicit that information from my team so they, too,
can be inspired by the organization’s purpose to achieve our
The first four are “standard” … you’ve seen them before … no
surprises, right? The last one, #5 or Inter-personal and
Intra-personal (or Emotional) Intelligence is one of the most significant competencies
in a successful leader or manager and is key to becoming a sustainable
leader, one who is built to last, harnesses the potential of themselves and others and with that drives positive change.
Where can leaders and leaders-to-be get stronger in this area?
(Hint: You won’t find it in any MBA curriculum). Let an
experienced professional assist you to get the psychological edge
in your career.
Contact me today to arrange your confidential, no-obligation
coaching session to set yourself apart and to become a
Sustainable Leader who adds exponential value to your organization.
***Go to http://www.sustainable-leaders.com/Coaching_Packages.html
for Significant Savings on Coaching Packages for
Individuals/Professionals and Managers through 8/31***