A Leadership Model that Offers a Holistic Approach to Human Potential

Sally Wernham
4 min read

With a keen interest in leadership development, I was inspired to engage with the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology for a few reasons. As a neurobiology-based personal leadership and well-being model, it aligned with my interest in the growing body of neuroscientific research on brain development and behaviour. This differentiation from other leadership and assessment models offers an evidence-based point of distinction.

Unlike many other leadership models, it works beyond the organisational context, focusing on the human aspect of the leader in any context. It acknowledges that to deal with the uncertainty of our current world, we must activate innovative & creative ways of thinking and being, through the development of trusted environments and collaboration with others, to navigate ambiguity in an agile manner.

The i4 Neuroleader™ Program & Model offers a holistic approach to human potential. By integrating elements of the brain, heart and gut, it takes a transformative approach to growth and development, acknowledging all aspects of the characteristics needed to thrive in our Imagination Age.

Sally Wernham

Key Learnings And Experiences

In exploring the four competencies of this model (Performance, Collaboration, Innovation and Agility), with a further four pillars describing each competency, a broad understanding of this model has been achieved.

Breaking down each pillar into specific traits and behaviours, which are reflected in the feedback assessment questions, provides a comprehensive framework and a balanced approach to the personal characteristics required for effective leadership in the 21st century. In particular, I resonated with the value placed on authenticity, humility and curiosity, in the leadership context.

Participation in the 3-day workshop provided further experiential consolidation of this understanding of the model and its unique approach. The combination of activities evoked different neurological responses and experiences, through movement, play, affirmation, music, collaboration, healthy food, and demonstrated a powerful impact in adopting holistic leadership development. This was further amplified by working with a collaborative group, who shared experiences, an early preparedness for vulnerability, and demonstrated emotional intelligence and self-awareness.

Viewing brain imaging, including the scans demonstrating the physical impact on the brain from diseases and other afflictions, provided insight into neuroplasticity and the brain’s ability to regenerate given the right conditions. This knowledge invoked consideration of what may be offered through my own coaching practice, to enable others to reset their context towards more effective leadership, and a healthier, more fulfilling life.

There is a need for greater social intelligence among teams to move visions forward, with individuals who not only know how to lead but can also follow. Both leadership and follow-ship are necessary at all levels of an organisation, so that we may acknowledge, leverage and embrace the unique value offered by all team members. We now require social thinking, as much as analytical thinking, to create an innovative, competitive advantage in a professional environment, and must value the perspectives of younger generations, and much as wisdom and guidance of more experienced generations.

The I4 Neuroleader Assessment

My participation in the 360-feedback i4 Neuroleader Report enabled a greater understanding of the structure, process and debriefing elements of the assessment. Reviewing the results, through a facilitated debrief session as well as my own reflection, helped to identify the gaps between self-perception and the views of others across many contexts.

During this process, I sought feedback from a broad group of contacts, including current managers, peers, direct reports, previous managers and reports, friends and family. This provided comprehensive feedback and tested any incongruencies in the perceptions of respondents from different life environments (i.e. personal vs professional). I see considerable value in encouraging clients to also adopt this diverse approach, as it delivers a more authentic and holistic result.

The strength of this feedback process lies in both affirming where self-assessment is consistent with the views of others; and in identifying where significant gaps are apparent, understanding these gaps, and how to address the inconsistencies. Focus on these “blind spots” creates greater self-awareness and is supported through information and practical strategies to consider for further development, in the “Leadership Is Upside Down” Workbook.

Ongoing Use Of The i4 Neuroleader Model

I envisage several opportunities to utilise the i4 Neuroleader Model. Within my current workplace, I have introduced the principles of this model to my team, to inform a more holistic approach to leadership and team development.

Within my own consulting practice, utilising the i4 Model for my clients expands my coaching capability, and provides me with a credible methodology that I can use repeatedly and consistently. There is significant value in accessing resources and IP in representing this approach, for a professional market presentation. This will allow me to establish a market presence through a recognised, evidence-based methodology, supported by my coaching and advisory services.  

The expertise that may be leveraged through other i4 Practitioners, as a community of like-minded leaders, cannot be understated. In undertaking coaching and mentoring for others, it is my practice to ensure that a client’s specific needs and expectations are met, which at times may require a recommendation to work with an alternative coach to achieve a more effective personal and professional alignment.

I am invested in supporting others to understand and leverage their strengths and grow and strive towards their possibilities. As an executive in the early childhood education and care sector (and with experience across other education sectors), I have an interest in the brain development of young children and the link to children’s behaviour and life outcomes, together with the well-being of educators as they create the environment for learning and development for our children.

I recently had the opportunity to hear Dr Stuart Shanker speak on the study of the developing brain in young children, in which he discussed the “red brain, blue brain” balance and the importance of self-regulation skills for children to reframe their response to stress and subsequent behaviours.

He explains that even where problems become entrenched in a child's behaviour, trajectories can be changed (even for inter-generational trauma), which is consistent with the i4 teachings about neuroplasticity and the ability to reframe cognitive patterns and regenerate damage to the brain.

There is an opportunity to utilise the i4 Neuroleader Model within the early childhood sector, leveraging the research on early childhood brain development, and supporting the development of early childhood educators as authentic, knowledgeable and confident leaders.

Originally posted on: 21 February 2019
Last updated on: 25 May 2024
Sally Wernham

Sally Wernham

i4 Neuroleader Certified
Sally has over 30 years’ combined experience across the education and information technology sectors in executive management, strategy and business growth, leadership development, and managing collaborative partnerships, with a consultative client-focussed approach to organisational challenges and opportunities. Her experience in the education sector spans from early childhood education through to the tertiary sector, with a diversity of roles including early childhood teaching, leading sales team in the vocational education sector, and governance at Board level. Her passion lies with the human optimisation - investing in strong foundations for our children, and supporting others to find and grow their potential.

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