Daniel Goleman, PhD covered the brain and behavioral Sciences at the New York Times for 12 years. He is considered one of the founders of emotional intelligence and has written numerous books describing emotional intelligence research and the impact it has on individuals and on teams. In Daniel’s book; The Brain and Emotional Intelligence: New Insights he shares some foundational leadership principles that come from the study of the brain.
- “Mindsight” is the term doctor Daniel Siegel, director of the Mindsight Institute at UCLA, uses for the mind’s ability to see itself. His remarkable work makes a strong case that the brain circuitry we use for self-mastery and to know ourselves is largely identical with that for knowing another person.
- The social brain includes a multitude of circuitry, all designed to attune to and to interact with another person’s brain. Person to person emotional contagion operates automatically, instantly, unconsciously, and outside of our intentional control.
- One key discovery was “mirror neurons” which act something like a neural Wi-Fi to connect with another brain.
- In any human group, people pay most attention to – and put most importance on – what the most powerful person in the group says or does. There are many studies that show for example that if the leader of a team is in a positive mood, that spreads an upbeat mood to the others and that collective positivity enhances the group’s performance
Have you ever noticed that a leader in a bad mood at the start of a meeting can instantly squash the energy and positive moods of those in attendance? I believe this to be true 100% in a live meeting and it still a huge impact on a virtual meeting.
Leadership is complex and leaders are always under the microscope of observation. From the research that Daniel writes about, we now know why it is so critical to be aware of our energy and mood.
Extraordinary leaders, now this important truth and therefore they are careful about how they ‘show up’ in meetings. It is important that the leader maximize their positive energy so that their team can feel it and draw off that energy source. I can recall many times when my team was down and negative. It is so easy for a leader to ‘join them’ and it feels good to be a part of the ‘room’. However, great leaders, withstand the temptation and make a strong attempt to be different; more energy, more positivity, and attempt to seed hope into their team.
Today, more than ever, we need leaders who understand this.
What is a leader to do?
- Self-regulate – notice your energy and mood swings. Are you trending down or up? What is affecting you and what can your change to make yourself less burdened and overwhelmed? How can you get the 800-pound gorilla off your chest before you walk into the meeting?
- Be a recovery junkie! Every 24 hours we have an opportunity to recover our energy sources. If we know we are down spiritually, we can take more time to pray, journal, meditate or what ever practice brings us the spiritual energy we need. We can and should do the same thing for our mental & emotional wellbeing. And, as most of us attempt to practice, some form of physical renewal is critical every day. I love yoga because it allows me to hit all four energy sources. Knowing what you love to do and providing some self-care to renew these four energy sources is critical to having the energy to lead others. Followers can be very demanding during this work at home period, and if you are doing all your meetings virtually, it takes even more energy than you would think.
- Be around energy givers and limit your time with energy takers. I had a friend who was an incredible networker who declared one day that he had it with people who sucked the life out of him. He was going to take care of himself and not engage with people who sucked him dry of his most important currencies, time, and energy.
We cannot always do that if the energy sucker works for us, but we can limit how much of our energy we give to them. Not everyone wants to be positive or have hope and some are chronically going to only see what is broken and what mistakes have been made. I personally believe if you cannot find a positive way to be on my team, I will try to help you find some other team that you can experience some form of happiness. I have told people before; life is too short to not find some form of enjoyment out of your work.
Do not underestimate how much you get ‘fed’ by other positive people. If you are not engaging with other positive people enough, you need to get around them more, so that they can help you increase your energy and positively grow.
- Finally, positive leaders are learning machines. They are constantly learning, growing, and changing. Personal and professional growth always increase your energy, hope, and ability to withstand the negative stuff that life throws at you. If you do not have a leadership development plan, let me know and I will help you create one. You need to be in meaningful development to build new habits and become an extraordinary leader (of yourself and others). When you are growing it is much easier to have hope in the future and to share that with your team!