When we conjure up an image up a leader in business, we might see the stereotypical tall, white man, with chiseled jaw, expensive suit, power tie, you get the picture – a sort of super-hero with an MBA and an unhealthy amount of confidence matched only by his lack of compassion. The strong, results-oriented driver personality, win at all costs, take no prisoners, bottom-line boss image can provide a sense of comfort to employees, investors and clients alike, especially when feeling anxious about the future. It makes sense to our primal nature that a strong leader can solve our problems and keep us safe.
No offense to tall people or nice suits, I happen to like both. The problem with becoming a leader (boss), or choosing our leaders with this mindset, is that our tribe isn’t fighting off wild animals and other invading tribes. Of course we all feel fearful at times, and of course it’s natural to respond to fear from the reptilian part of our brain that says we need power or protection to overcome whatever it is we fear.
A research team at Cornell University studied the leadership styles, backgrounds and track records of 72 senior executives across 31 companies and concluded that harsh, hard-driving, executives actually diminish the bottom line, while self-aware leaders with strong interpersonal skills produced better financial results. “Bully traits that are often seen as part of a business-building culture were typically signs of incompetence and lack of strategic intellect. Such weaknesses as being arrogant, too direct or impatient and stubborn, correlated with low ratings for delivering financial results, business/technical acumen, strategic intellect, and, not surprisingly, managing talent, inspiring followership, and being a team player.” There is a better way.
While Self-awareness get little attention in the business world, the Cornell study reveals that it should actually be a top concern. High self-awareness scores were the best predictor of overall success. It makes sense that executives who are aware of the lenses through which they filter their perceptions and assumptions might have a more honest grasp of reality, affecting their relationships, decisions and actions. Further, having realistic confidence and an awareness of their own limitations would allow them to hire subordinates who complement their talents.
According to Daniel Goleman, renowned Emotional Intelligence expert, “self-awareness is the skill that requires the most patience and honesty, and provides the best foundation for further developing Emotional and Social Intelligence in both work and life situations.”
It seems that soft values drive hard results.
Goleman’s research colleague, Richard Davidson, a neuroscientist at the University of Wisconsin, explains the mind-body connection of self-awareness. “We know that Emotional Self-Awareness can begin with sensations in your body or with your thoughts. When emotions are activated, they are accompanied by bodily changes. There may be changes in breathing rate, in muscle tension, in heart rate. Emotional Self-Awareness in part is the awareness of one's own body.”
As a RIM practitioner (Regenerating Images in Memory), I learned this from my teacher and mentor Dr. Deb Sandella, founder of The RIM Institute and author of Goodbye Hurt and Pain. It’s called interoception, the sensing of feelings as they flow through the body, bringing helpful feedback, if we pay attention. With RIM, we guide clients to use body sensing to tap into these usually unnoticed emotions.
The subconscious speaks in metaphors and images while the intellect speaks in thoughts and words. When we use imagination to translate and synthesize feelings, a whole-brain experience is created. The results are profound. Neuroscience explains how it works—this ability to change our emotional memory to create new endings to old stories that shape our self-concept, world-views and limiting beliefs. All the while factual memory remains intact and the client remains in total control. In addition to relieving stress, anxiety, emotional and physical pain, the client enjoys increased internal insight, resourcefulness and self-awareness.
Because emotional work is invisible and intangible, it can seem complicated, difficult to measure, time-consuming, expensive, and unrelated to the bottom line. The opposite is actually true. In reality, results can be simple, quick and easy. New methods such as RIM, can produce immediate results in improved self-awareness, which is the cornerstone of emotional intelligence, repeatedly shown to influence job satisfaction and job performance for employees and effectiveness for leaders.
For more information about leadership and team development or RIM, visit www.intus.life/RIM or email firstname.lastname@example.org.