A New Perspective On Leadership Development
I write a lot about leadership development. I have led teams for many years and I have helped others lead teams through my coaching practice. Much of my understanding of leadership is naturally influenced by the myriad of great leaders I have observed and read about. However the majority of my knowledge about what works is through my practice. I have led teams in junior, mid-level and senior roles. I have supported CEOs and MDs across all sectors as a coach.
Many challenges leaders face as well as within my leadership is to be able to adapt and get the best results despite our perceived limitations, beliefs and experiences. This might sound negative, but actually, it is the reason why developing self-awareness as a leader is so pivotal.
However despite honing our leadership capability in numerous ways, what I found are some universal factors which when in evidence demonstrated great leadership having an impact on some of the most challenging world issues, right down to the smallest business team. In this article, I set out what I believe is a powerful leadership development model, to which anyone can subscribe to.
My Journey And Leadership Development
My journey into the field of leadership and management was quite unintentional. Initially, the concept of leading from a higher self was foreign to me. As a 16-year-old school leaver with modest aspirations of marriage and family life, I had little direction in my career. My first job in an office led to a managerial position at just 22, challenging me to rapidly adapt and learn in an environment where I was both the youngest and the leader.
Throughout my career, I embraced a trial-and-error approach, often needing to pivot strategies. Reflecting, I realize that my leadership style wasn’t always easy for my team members and colleagues. However, this journey led me to develop a set of principles that unknowingly aligned with the concept of leading from a higher self, forming the basis of my leadership development model.
This model emphasises continuous learning, particularly in the context of relationships. I discovered that true learning involves introspection and drawing knowledge from within, a concept rooted in the etymology of ‘education’. This path of self-discovery revealed that understanding oneself is crucial not for self-improvement, but for uncovering one’s true nature.
As my self-awareness expanded, so did my leadership skills. This journey wasn’t self-centred; rather, it fostered a deeper appreciation and understanding of others. I learned that effective leadership is less about direct guidance and more about nurturing others to find their own strengths and true selves.
A Universal Need For Value Based Leadership
Over the years, I have discussed leadership in many forums. Several years ago, I had a deep challenging discussion with MBA students about the world challenges leaders were faced with. My question to them was about the qualities those leaders needed to bring to those challenges, to save the world. In discussions with MBA students about modern leadership, we identified key attributes necessary for leaders. These include integrity, credibility, wisdom, courage, consistency, social intelligence, charisma, vision, communication, appreciation, decision-making, fairness, justice, rationality, creativity, honesty, and open-mindedness. These qualities form a common thread in various leadership models. They are essential in today’s challenging world.
What I realised from these and other discussions is that leadership is about honing attributes, qualities and skills that emanate from one’s higher self.
Neuroscience, The Higher Self And Leadership Development
Leading from one’s higher self can appear mysterious and out of our grasp unless we understand what we mean by a higher self. For some people, it means our wise self, or our universal self, or God, or love or anything that indicates we are looking at ourselves from our best selves. The concept of a higher self will resonate with you only if your personality preference can find a parallel. This is where understanding the neuroscience of higher self-leadership is useful.
To understand how the brain reinforces the concept of higher self leadership, let’s explore the key brain areas involved and how they function when a leader operates from this higher self.
The Brain’s Role in Leadership
Leadership demands a blend of decision-making, problem-solving, and emotional regulation. These functions are largely managed by the prefrontal cortex, the brain’s command centre for executive functions. When a leader is operating from their higher self, the prefrontal cortex is actively engaged, ensuring decisions are thoughtful and well-reasoned. Meanwhile, the limbic system, which governs emotions and memory, contributes to understanding others’ emotions and motivations. Effective leadership arises when these areas work in tandem, balancing logical reasoning with emotional intelligence.
Higher Self Leadership in Neuroscience
The higher self in leadership refers to aligning one’s actions with deeply held values and a clear sense of purpose. When leaders operate from this state, there’s an increased neural coherence – a harmonious communication between different brain regions. This coherence enables more effective and ethical decision-making, as the brain integrates rational thought with moral values and emotional understanding. It’s like an orchestra playing in perfect harmony, where each part of the brain contributes to a well-rounded leadership approach.
Neuroplasticity’s Role in Leadership Development
The brain’s remarkable ability to adapt and reorganise itself, known as neuroplasticity, is crucial in developing higher self leadership skills. As leaders consistently practice and reinforce behaviours aligned with empathy, resilience, and adaptability, their brain forms new neural connections that support these traits. It’s akin to building a muscle; the more you use it, the stronger it gets. By regularly engaging in practices that align with higher self leadership, leaders effectively rewire their brains to naturally default to these behaviours, making them more instinctive and ingrained in their leadership style.
In essence, when leaders operate from their higher self, they are not just utilizing a set of skills; they are tapping into a deeply integrated brain state where decision-making is informed by a blend of rational thought, emotional intelligence, and alignment with personal values. This results in leadership that is not only effective but also authentic and ethically grounded.
A Leadership Development Model
My leadership development model is grounded in universal common traits and the neuroscience which underpins those traits. It reflects a new paradigm in leadership. It’s a journey open to anyone at any time and is characterized by:
Connection To Higher Self
Cultivating an inner connection to one’s higher self involves more than introspection; it’s about aligning with an inner compass that guides decision-making, ethical understanding, and leadership approaches. This connection fosters a sense of inner direction, enabling leaders to navigate complex situations with discernment and confidence. It’s not merely about making effective decisions but also those that resonate with one’s core values and ethics. By developing this connection, leaders can respond to challenges not just with logical solutions, but also with insights that reflect their true selves. This deep inner alignment helps in making decisions that are not only intelligent but also empathetic and morally sound, creating a leadership style that is both effective and authentic.
Embracing our true essence is vital in leadership, exemplified through unity consciousness. This concept transcends individual perspectives, focusing on the interconnectedness of all and the universal values of love and respect. Leaders who embody unity consciousness lead with a deep understanding of the value of each individual, fostering a leadership approach that is inclusive and equitable. This perspective leads to the development of positive, value-based leadership practices that respect and value others equally, recognising the inherent worth of every team member. In practical terms, this means creating a workplace culture that celebrates diversity, encourages collaboration, and ensures every voice is heard and valued.
Utilising advanced visionary, thinking, and emotional intelligence skills in leadership is crucial for making a meaningful impact. This involves being creative, self-aware, and purposeful in all aspects of leadership. Self-aware leaders are reflective and mindful of their actions and decisions, understanding how they affect others and the larger goals of the organisation. They leverage their emotional intelligence to empathise with team members, recognise their emotional responses, and manage their reactions effectively. This level of self-awareness allows leaders to be visionary in their approach, anticipating future trends and challenges, and innovating solutions that are not only effective but also aligned with their core values and the organisation’s mission.
Understanding and effectively communicating with others is essential for inspiring and motivating a team. Leaders who excel in this area create an environment that is charged with enthusiasm and commitment. They achieve this by being accepting and non-judgmental, recognising the unique strengths and potential of each team member. Such leaders are inspirational. They communicate their vision in a way that resonates with their team. Also, they can encourage them to transcend their limitations and contribute their best. They foster a culture of mutual respect and empowerment. Each member feels valued and motivated to work towards common goals. Such leaders not only inspire others through their words but also their actions, setting an example of integrity, dedication, and passion.
Leaders who embody these characteristics are adept at motivating, inspiring, leading, and engaging their teams, demonstrating the core of effective leadership development.
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I help leaders develop self- mastery, helping them to become confident in their own inner guidance.
I collaborate with leadership experts, managers and HR professionals to help them get their own message and unique services and products to a wide audience.