I have just returned from a week in Las Vegas with my friend and colleague Tiffany Gray presenting Brain Mapping at the ACMP conference (Association of Change Management Professionals). What a great event, and it was inspiring to see that Australian businesses comprised a significant percentage of the exhibitors!
We offered a ‘lite’ brain map experience to those who approached our booth and then the opportunity for that person to be debriefed around their map. Many of the 1000 participants took up this option.
Almost without fail, though, when we sat down with them to debrief they half-jokingly began with – is my map OK? and as we went through the debrief process they would make comments like “how do I fix that part of my brain?” or “I wish my brain were different”.
At what point did we stop appreciating individuality? At what point did we start to believe that who we are was ‘broken’?
One interesting conversation centred around a female change leader (let’s call her Jo) whose brain map indicated a strength for Analysis (accuracy, big picture evaluation and the ability to handle detail), and also being People-focused (supporting people, co-ordinating people and helping people feel accepted and respected). Jo’s ‘red’ results-driven area (delivering and being goal-focused, assertive and wanting to ‘win’) was less of a strength for her and her immediate reaction was ‘How can I be a good leader if I don’t have that?’
So here’s the thing – the brain mapping tool I use is developed on a foundation of neuroscience principles and as such it assumes three underlying beliefs:
Firstly, your brain wiring is the result of four inputs:
- Evolution (we are evolved humans)
- Genetics (what you get from mum and dad)
- Experiences or circumstances (where you grew up, who you encountered and how they influenced you)
- And finally, by the choices you have made in your life (where you have deliberately or reactively placed your attention).
We know that the choices we make in terms of where we place our attention creates physical structural changes in the brain. And what this means is that your wiring is YOURS and a result of YOUR choices….and you can change that.
Secondly, just because you are ‘wired’ in a particular way does not mean that you are incapable of performing any particular activity or using any part of your brain effectively, it’s just that it costs you energy and that you draw your energy and motivation using your unique filters. Some things are a little less energising for you than others, and that is different for each of us, and you need to be aware of this and of how you manage your day and your tasks so you get the best from your brain. It’s not about the wiring, it’s about the management of your wiring.
And thirdly, there are many ways to skin a cat (terrible analogy, isn’t it!) and wouldn’t it be a dull world if we all approached the same task in the same way? Jo’s brain map was PERFECT for performing her leadership role HER way. We need to appreciate and capitalise on our uniqueness, not constantly desire a myth-based, utopian and systemised approach to leadership.
Leadership is about understanding your uniqueness, your own ‘wiring’ and then playing to your strengths. It’s about focusing on what you can add as a leader that is unique to you. It’s about understanding how your unique combination of experiences and choices can benefit the world and influence those around you.
In my work with leaders I refer to great leaders as ‘Facilitators of Awesomeness’. A leader’s job is to find and facilitate the awesomeness in their colleagues and team members – then let them get on with their jobs. But sometimes they forget to facilitate their own awesomeness. We’ve fallen into an ‘I need to DO more, LEARN more, BE more, mode and it’s time to MAKE SOME WAVES around that and focus on the already amazing YOU because the alternative is not much fun.
So here are three questions you need to ask yourself, and encourage your team and colleagues to ask of themselves and of others…
- What am I awesome at?
- How can I use that awesomeness to help my team achieve it’s goals or support others to do so?
- What beliefs do I have that get in the way of me utilising my awesomeness and what do I need to do to change that?
Go forth and MAKE WAVES and be your awesome self today!
Have a great day!