The Future of Leadership Skills: brain science and importance of consistency
Being a leader is not for everyone. That is a fact. I am sure we can all think of at least one person today who is in position of power, but not a leader. Some of us are placed into a position of leadership without any preparation as well. If you choose to become a leader or are selected to be one in an organization – then be a great one! Your actions, behaviors, decisions, and role-modeling will affect all those around you.
What does it mean to be leader, anyway?
There are many definitions of a leader – depending on which way you look at it – some can see it as someone who orders or enforces, and in other cases it is someone who inspires, coaches, and motivates.
But what does a leader of the future need to characterize?
A leader of the future is someone who can be empathetic, inspiring, motivating, and challenging to others in a positive way. Someone who can lead by example and someone who is courageous enough to change as often as needed in order to drive the team forward. A leader is one who is comfortable and vulnerable enough to change their mind when new facts or information are brought to light. Someone who is not stuck on the way things used to be done and instead has a future focused mindset.
Becoming a new leader is a big change for many. The leadership skills that we described above do not always come naturally and even when they do – it is essential to continue to practice those, especially as one gets busy and managing many things at the same time. It is easy to let things slide when the business is pushing you to be faster, leaner, and more profitable. And, it is at this particular moment when we need to be able to slow down and remember to lead in the right way!
Now, let’s look at how the brain processes change. When we experience any sort of change – there is a part of our brain that is called the amygdala (maybe you heard it being referred to as an almond like shape in your brain) – that processes fear and threat detection. It is the part of the brain that initiates that fight or flight response. So, when it comes to taking on a new leadership role – the brain could potentially perceive it as a threat and trigger us to respond in a way that creates anxiety and stress. This is particularly true if you feel you are not ready for the role because you already have this belief that this role is going to get your out of your comfort zone aka unknown aka this is scary for our brains.
If we are operating from a perspective of fear, it is very difficult for us to lead in the right way – with empathy, understanding, role modeling, etc. – and eventually this fear will project onto our team members in a actions such as – micromanaging / lack of trust, emotional outbursts, burnout, frustration, lack of transparency, and other symptoms of someone who is operating from fear.
So, what can you do as a new leader to prepare yourself to take on this rewarding yet difficult role?
First, we must start with bringing awareness to the areas where we need some work when it comes to leadership. Everything starts with self-awareness and continuous reflection on regular basis. Once we have this awareness, we can then start taking actions towards the person we need to become to be the leader we aspire to be. Here is where it gets tricky and I want you to pay attention. Most people go with intensity of doing leadership courses, hiring a coach, and diving deep into relationships with their team members right away. But, as many of us know already (just think of the last new year’s resolution you made) is that going intensely into something does not usually guarantee results. Why? Because it just adds another layer of pressure and fear into our brain– which likes slow change, not intense big change.
Instead, try applying small daily steps towards practicing the different skills that are required of the leader of the future.
Empathy, listening, building trust, leading by example, managing change – are all parts of leadership that require continuous practice, patience, and most importantly consistency. By applying small steps approach – you are more likely to continue to elevate your leadership skills.
Think of what small step you can take today to start practice one of those skills?
Co-founder of Bessern
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