Anyone that imagines the life of a leader, today, as being easier than previously clearly hasn’t had the experience of walking even a short distance in their shoes, let alone in their high heels.
Flattening the curve is only positive when considering viral pandemics. For the rest the expectation remains one of maintaining the bottom-line growth curve upward, regardless of the state of the global economy. Add to this the responsibility of leaders to grow their talent and cascade a social consciousness throughout the ranks, and you will soon realize the importance of gaining deeper insight to the talent gathered around your meeting room table. Or are you still in the Zoom room?
Leaders are justified in feeling like they’re under attack. And when you are under attack the stress levels rise. And when stress levels rise you, as a human, are very likely to default to your freeze, fight or flight mode buried deep in your reptilian brain. The reason for highlighting this expected response pattern is not as a motivation to maintain your decorum, as is expected of leaders, but rather as a caution to avoid a form of blindness to what could be your saving grace. The ability to understand how to unpack the brain power at your disposal.
Believe it or not there is a substantial piece of good news for leaders, made up of two parts. Firstly that neuroscience, a relatively new field of science that was only broadly entrenched as recently as the early 60’s, is growing in popularity, credibility and awareness. Secondly, that the technology explosion is making it easier and more affordable for the very clever and dedicated neuroscientists to understand more than we have ever previously enjoyed about how the brain and the broader human enterprise operates.
Why is this good news?
Quite simply, there is no longer a reason why your own blind spots, pre-conceptions and unconscious or conscious bias should get in the way of you maximizing the potential that lies hidden in your talent you have employed.
Profile instruments, such as Mind Dynamix, can be thought of as the “budget MRI scan”. A simple, self-completion questionnaire can deliver an incredible amount of insight to the individual’s areas of expertise and the likely impact of extreme stress (which should be referred to as the price for surviving the average day) upon this precious resource.
Until such time as you have had the opportunity to do a proper profiling exercise for yourself and your team, here are three useful tips that you, as a leader, should bear in mind (excuse the pun) the next time you are thinking about which of your team would be best suited to getting you out of the latest downward curve!
- Human nature encourages us to be attracted to similar individuals. We tend to find familiarity comfortable and very often hire those that are a replica of ourselves. Bad move! Diversity is key to bottom line performance.
Forbes, McKinsey, Entrepreneur and numerous other highly respected opinion leaders have published study upon study to reinforce the measurable benefit of diversity.
- Individuals who have a “back of brain” dominance tend to appear more reserved because they most enjoy spending time at the “back of the cave”, reflecting. If, by contrast, you are more expressive “front of brain” you may find that you come across as an affront to this person who will then quite happily shut up and not share those great ideas that were incubating!
Don’t mistake being reserved as less intelligent or resourceful.
- In the words of Aristotle “True wisdom begins with knowledge of yourself”.
We all have blind spots and think we know how we come across. You wouldn’t be the first to be surprised by the “other person” that is described in your 360 review. And what about that auto-response mechanism that tends to derail you at the very moment you wished you could remain cool, calm and collected – again!
The bottom line to this thought starter is that an enormous amount of talent is already at your disposal. It begins with understanding your own, unique and authentic expertise that you can tease out with a bit of self-management. Next, take a fresh look at the talent that is already gathered around you and celebrate that there is a lot more resource you can tap into than you had imagined. Create an environment that encourages diversity and the rest will follow.