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Exceptional leaders know the combination to “Playing Big”

Combination

Last week we discussed how the amygdala part of the brain can affect how leaders can either play big or play small in dealing with stressful situations. One key point that we focused on was how easy it is for the amygdala to “awfulize” and think of all the bad things that can possibly happen. The amygdala naturally does this to prepare for the worst that can actually happen to us. In some situations it can be a great benefit. In other work environment situations it can stop us in our tracks. To understand why the amygdala reacts in certain situations it’s important to understand what the baseline is for a non-reactive amygdala.
We all have emotional needs. Maslow in his work mapped out the emotional needs of humans. People have added to his work and changed portions but Maslow’s work still provides a solid foundation. I like to keep it simple, so I focus on five key emotional needs. They are:
• Safety
• Power
• Acceptance
• Respect
• Value.
These five needs are applicable to children and adults. When these needs are met the amygdala is pretty content. When these needs are not met, people will act out. Watch what happens to a small child when they try and interrupt talking adults to show them something. When the adult says, “Not now, can’t you see we’re talking.” The child will walk away and pout. They don’t feel accepted or included and the amygdala will go into action and they pout and withdraw.
Now watch in a business meeting when people are sharing ideas and when one person finally gets a chance to speak up and the meeting leader says, “Sorry Cindy, but we need to move on.” Cindy will typically do what a small child will do. She will sit back, cross her arms and withdraw. I have watched men and women do this in meetings for years. They don’t feel like they are accepted or treated fairly (respect) or valued (feeling heard). The amygdala goes into action and the person doesn’t even realize they have sat back and folded their arms.
Exceptional leaders know the combination to Playing Big by recognizing unmet emotional needs and the acting out by the person who experiences this situation. A quick comment by an exceptional leader can bring Cindy back into the meeting in seconds. “Cindy we are short on time but I would like to get your input after the meeting.” In seconds Cindy feels valued. Simple example but the combination to playing big is not complicated. When you see people acting out, whether its children or adults, you can be pretty certain that there is an unmet emotional need not being met. We’ll share some more examples in the next couple of blogs because observing and understanding what is happening in stressful or difficult situations can help you work on becoming an exceptional leader.
Thanks for coming along.

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