The surprising key to effective leadership
How many of you would like to ramp up your leadership style, your career potential or your management credentials?
Many coaching clients want to work on being more effective in their role at work, in how they communicate, how they influence, and in how they express what they truly believe, whilst still wearing the company hat.
Maybe you have been sent on, or enrolled in management and leadership style courses – only to realise you pretty much know the theory anyway?
It’s actually fairly easy to draw up a list of qualities and behaviours we believe a good leader must show, but something gets in the way in real life doesn’t it? Some deep subconscious clutter lurks below the surface like old software. We collect software over years of conditioning – learning through our perceptions – comparing or being compared, having to face into uncomfortable challenges whether we like it or not, and then adding more evidence to the internal filing system that we are not quite performing to our best as a leader. Sometimes, the software just seems to run the show and take us off the track of being the sort of role model we know we could be, or should be!
Coaches are trained in modalities which help people step up into their own personal power – be it at work or in any other area of life. There is one subtle but transformational key to really effective leadership, which trumps all the obvious contenders - mental clarity.
A state of mental clarity just naturally allows us to access our most confident, calm selves, and more importantly to call on and implement all the theory we learnt on the courses. The ability to switch into a state of mental clarity, free from the subconscious noise of self-criticism and the inner dialogue of unhelpful beliefs – has us at our most resourceful, clever, creative and intuitive – all hallmarks of a good leader. And if you can replicate these hallmarks on demand, even in the face of awkward challenges or complicated cross party demands, then you are becoming a great leader.
Modern techniques for mental clarity
Modern meditation techniques designed to be used in a regular practice – ideally ten minutes per day, but less is also very effective – can literally rewire your brain for greater mental clarity.
There is a growing and robust evidence base now which proves how meditation actually changes our brains, and even effects change at a cellular level in our DNA.
One of the most useful ways it changes our brains, and allows us to step up into better leadership, is that it shrinks the Amydala. Professor of Neuroscience, Sarah Lazar of Harvard Medical School, showed how just six weeks of mediation shrinks the ‘fear centre’ in our brains, meaning it gets triggered less and becomes less reactive.
This is key for leadership, because we don't want to be triggering our ‘fight or flight’ response in a work environment (which happens very commonly) or else we end up flipping the switch from clever and resourceful operating, where we can access our knowledge – to emotional and reactive operating, where we can experience brain fog, poor recall, confusion and be prone to over-reacting and bad indecisiveness.
Work stresses and demands (any stress actually) cause our amygdalae to become over-stimulated, large and over developed, so in time we become robbed of the access to our most powerful, and effective inner brain circuitry, and instead fall victim to a limited set of responses which do not reflect the best version of us, or the knowledge and learning we have accumulated through experience and training.
Fortunately, thanks to the brain’s natural plasticity, it's ability to collapse down old circuits and to build up new ones, any adverse changes can be reversed and stress and its impact on effective and inspiring leadership can be resolved. We can return to, and in nature even more, this state of mental clarity with the application of correctly designed techniques - and our fulfilment, pride and career prospects can be restored!
Here's a little taster of part of a technique which can re-train mental clarity - try it for yourself.
- Gaze gently ahead with relaxed eyes and a relaxed face.
- Gently allow your awareness to expand outwards to your peripheral vision - don't look outward with your eyes, they will remain gazing ahead.
- Gently and softly expand your awareness above and below.
- Allow your eyelids to drop, and maintain this gentle wide open awareness, noticing that you can expand it even more fully around you, to a 360 degree awareness of the space around you.
- What's this like?
This technique slows brain waves down to a fluid and clear alpha wave, by activating the parasympathetic nervous system. Clients notice a softer, more still and quiet experience, with slow thoughts and insightful ‘downloads’ - it is the opposite of the ‘fight or flight response’ and a great building block to restoring mental clarity when combined with the complete modern meditation technique is is an excerpt of.