Discover Your Brain Strengths to Navigate Life
Neuroleadership in the “Century of the Brain”
A leader is anyone who interacts with and influences one or more people. On the most foundational level, each individual can choose to be their own self-directed leader to navigate life more successfully. The alternative is becoming a “victim” of other people, situations and circumstances. Neuroleadership is based on modern practical neuroscience for accelerated growth and development with a minimum of stress. It is a safe and sure way to become the “captain of your life.”
Traditionally trained leaders are discovering the power of practical neuroscience as the quickest, easiest and most sustainable solution to creating a more fulfilling life for themselves, their families and their organizations. Practical neuroscience is the solution for personal, professional and organizational challenges that involve interpersonal conflicts, respect and trust issues, engagement, cooperation, collaboration, productivity, accurate decision-making, creative problem-solving and self-directed development.
The 7 Practices of Successful Neuroleaders
This article bridges the gap between neuroleadership theory and practice. It focuses on consistent “high road” behaviors, the litmus test for personal integrity and leadership effectiveness. The beauty and elegance of practical neuroscience empower and equip people with the understanding and tools to improve quality-of-life for themselves and the people with whom they interact. The 7 practices of successful neuroleaders provide a scientifically sound foundation for better relationships, more productive teams and sustainable organizations.
1. Be the best you can be and help others do the same
The promise of neuroscience is being the very best you can be and being able to help others do the same. The process is continuous and never ending, because the brain has infinite capacity to learn, grow and create. Joining like minds may be the most powerful form of energy on our planet. This first practice is a two-sided coin; one side is labeled “You,” the other side is “Others.” The coin’s contextual frame-of-reference is “We,” the foundation for inclusivity. Master level neuroleaders role model this motto and practice the following behaviors all the time, in all situations without exception.
2. Respect neurodiversity
Neuroleaders recognize that every human being is 100% unique, resulting in myriad combinations of strengths, talents, interests, interpretation and interaction with the world. “The greater the diversity, the greater the potential” describes the process of tapping into the vast brainpower, experience, skills and knowledge of two or more people to solve their most vexing and challenging problems. Past thinking and behaviors are not sufficient to solve the problems they created; they must tackle the problems in ways that are new. The challenge is to build an environment of trust and respect, where diverse people with common interests join minds and work toward new outcomes.
Neuroleaders seek to understand the points of view of others before expressing their own opinions; they refrain from taking an immediate position and from expressing themselves in attack or defense modes. “Neutral gear” behavior builds trust and respect; it also engenders cooperation and collaboration. Respecting neurodiversity is the central axis of neuroleadership. Discipline, suspending judgment and not having to always be “right” are core competencies of neuroleaders. After a while, people with whom you interact will start role modeling your behaviors; that’s when things really start to up-shift quickly.
3. Establish inspiring vision, mission and values
People choose to do things for their reasons, not yours. There must be redeeming value and the potential for achieving desirable personal outcomes for people to engage in relationships, projects, volunteer activities and careers. Neuroleaders create compelling vision and mission statements, exciting goals and the underlying value system that drives human behavior. In business, values establish the standard for how people treat each other and their customers. Imagine the outcomes in your spousal relationship, family, team or organization when the participants contribute and engage with this practice. The process builds ownership, commitment and loyalty. The group participants become the critical mass for implementation, role modeling and coaching. Setting the bar at “high road” levels attracts like-minded people who align with the vision, mission, goals and values. This practice is another foundational building block for “conscious change,” tapping into the highest level of human potential.
4. Align people’s strengths with what needs to be accomplished
Doesn’t it make sense that people are more likely to enthusiastically engage and do their best, when their strengths, interests, knowledge and passions align with what they are asked to do? The area almost always ignored is aligning sensory and cognitive strengths with the sensory and cognitive requirements of what we have to do. Every activity uses a combination of Visual, Kinesthetic (hands-on) and Auditory skills and strengths; likewise, every activity requires different levels of Sequential (ordered) and/or Global (big picture) processing. Think about the implications of selecting a surgeon, whose least preferred sensory pathway is Visual and who has a strong orientation to Global thinking that might compromise proven and safe surgical procedures.
As a practical matter, it makes good business sense to align people’s strengths and preferences with what has to be accomplished. The outcomes are greater engagement, increased productivity, reduced mistakes and happier people.
5. Create safe, supportive and stimulating environments
Some leaders may push back and feel uncomfortable about the notion of “fun” in the workplace. Perhaps historical brain programming created their perception that fun distracts people and reduces productivity; this is faulty thinking. Fun, within the workplace, means being motivated, feeling safe, achieving challenges, deploying strengths, being in a positive mood, feeling physically comfortable, experiencing progress and having positive interactions with co-workers. Any negative opposites of these conditions limit your fun, productivity and fulfillment. The absence of fun in the workplace can eventually neutralize and demoralize the brain power of the workforce, its most powerful and important asset.
Neuroleaders understand that everyone experiences different brain state “moods,” ranging from acute fear to a serene state characterized by clear thinking, creativity, focus and achieving performance excellence. Positive and affirmative language and behaviors have a profound effect on people’s mood states. When someone comes to work with worries, a neuroleader shows compassion and empathy; she/he uses caring and affirming language like, “I see you may be out-of-sorts today, what I can do to help you?” Positive language throughout the day like, “good job,” “thank you,” “please,” “forgive me, I’m sorry” and “I have a problem and need your help” goes a long way toward helping people feel good about themselves, which elevates moods and productivity.
6. Deliver practical neuroscience tools and training
Knowledge of the sensory and cognitive strengths and “blind spots” of the people around you is a foundational element of making the most of neurodiversity. Team profiles enable the team to communicate with one another on their preferred “wavelengths,” saving valuable time and reducing conflict. As an example, a person, having Visual as their strongest sensory preference and Global as their cognitive strength, needs to “see the big picture, options and possibilities.” This equates to using attractive and colorful visual media, flip charts, graphs, pictures and key points presented in an open-ended format that invites thinking about possibilities. Telling this visual and global thinking person the details, logic and particulars of something you want them to do or understand will only frustrate them. The sensory and cognitive thinking profiles also act as “alignment” tools for assigning work that fits each person’s strengths. Minimizing mistakes (risk management) is achieved when people are aware of their own “blind spots” and know which team member’s strengths are available as a quality control check.
It is, likewise, important to understand one another’s emotional “hot buttons:” words and situations that trigger negative or positive states-of-mind. As an example, most people will become irritated and negative when you say they need to lose weight or are stupid and lazy; other people may get aggravated when people whine and complain. People’s positive moods may be activated by caring eye contact, doing something kind like offering a cup of coffee and saying “I value these things about you.” Knowing each other’s “hot buttons” reduces stress, minimizes interpersonal conflict, saves time and keeps relationships on track.
Experiential training on neurodiveristy, sensory and cognitive strengths, “blind spots,” how the human brain works, mood states, positive language, safe and stimulating environments is the foundation for developing more neuroleaders and leveraging neurodiversity. The return-on- investment is almost immediate and the results are observable and measurable.
7. Celebrate success
Brains love celebrations because they are fun and affirming. Simple, sincere compliments and “high fives” throughout the day are indicative of the life style of neuroleaders. Reaching milestones and achieving big goals should, likewise, be acknowledged and celebrated. Celebrating the “We” rather than the “Me” keeps people engaged and happy. Always celebrate neurodiveristy and the outcomes it produces.
In conclusion, anyone interested in becoming a neuroleader can do so immediately by implementing these 7 practices. The end results are the same for two people in a relationship as for an organization with thousands of employees. Practical neuroscience is the unrecognized solution to the problems we experience daily in our personal and professional lives. Respect, leverage and celebrate neurodiversity and the power of the human brain to create new and fresh outcomes. The 7 practices start within; change your thinking, change your life.
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Did you find the 7-Principles interesting and thought provoking? Are you frustrated and disappointed about your workplace environment, morale and performance? A powerful way to continue your journey of leadership development is discovering how your brain is wired for success. Your personalized Brain PathWays report gives you practical neuroscience tools, based on your brain strengths to “be the best you can be.” The next step is “helping others do the same.” The on-line process takes less than 15 minutes, the results last a life time. Click to purchase your Brain PathWays online self-assessment and download your report today.