Whilst some of you would jump to the conclusion that this post might be about why we love tall, dark and handsome men as leaders as Malcolm Gladwell showed us in Blink, the GQ I am referring to is not Gentlemen Quarterly, but rather Gut Intelligence.  

Having studied rats’ brains and the effect of neurotransmitters on their anxiety in university, I’ve been working for many years trying to determine how we can link the neuroscience world to the corporate strategic and leadership world. My studies, coaching and teachings have lingered at the head - the brain. Until now. 

Thanks to an introduction to a beautiful doctor from Mindd.org a few years ago, I was suddenly confronted with an explanation of my own brain challenges that were actually not located in the head component of my brain — but actually in the gut.

What was happening in my gut was much further down the causal change in the explanation of why my own leadership, innovation and influence could not be as strong as I would have liked over my late 30s and 40s.  Over the last year, I have changed my gut and in doing so, I have significantly changed my brain, my health, and my leadership presence.  

I am now on the board of Mindd.org which is an awesome grass-roots organisation of parents, doctors and healers who are studying and teaching the latest science of how the health of our gut impacts the function of our brain in conditions such as autism, ADHD, anxiety, allergies and auto-immune disease — particularly on assisting children and their families.

During the daytime I work for the About my Brain Institute assessing and teaching leadership in organisations through the lenses of a much wider definition of “brain” - -the heart, the gut, and the head. We apply pragmatic exercises that address the type of leader we need for the 21st century, a leader who looks very different than the 58% of Fortune 500 companies who have been headed up by a male over 6 feet (compared to population norm of 14.5%) .  

If you want to understand leadership development for the 21st century, join our i4 Neuroleader Certification, where we bring together sleep scientists, gut specialists, neuroscientists, artists, cognitive behaviour psychologists, corporate leadership experts. This program really shows what is possible in the world of leadership behaviour change.

We can no longer do it through ONLY the cognitive thinking changes that our 20th century leadership development programs have been designed around.

Originally posted on: 30 October 2015
Last updated on: 18 February 2024
Katharine McLennan

Katharine McLennan

Executive Coach & Psychotherapist
About my Brain Institute

Katharine is passionate about sharing her endless expertise and thought leadership on talent development, strategy, neurocoaching and psychotherapy.

Katharine McLennan has a career that spans corporate strategy, execution and leadership. Her specialty is facilitating executive teams in the integration of strategy, operations, team dynamics and self-transformation. Her ideas on the future of work, leadership culture and HR transformation are provocative and inspiring in seminars, speeches, or writing.

Katharine is now an executive coach and psychotherapist for a range of corporate, government and non-profit leaders of organisations. She focuses on corporate strategy, talent and psychology. She also works with individuals facing depression, anxiety, addiction, trauma, and career transition.

Her corporate roles have included: Head of Strategy and HR for the Federal Government's Export Finance Australia, Vice President of People & Culture of Cochlear, Head of the QBE Global Leadership Academy and Executive General Manager, Talent and Business Unit HR for the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

Prior to her corporate career, Katharine spent TEN years in leadership consulting, providing advisory services on behalf of three major organisations: Heidrick & Struggles, the Mettle Group and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Through this work, she led projects in succession planning, CEO team strategy facilitation and executive assessment and development for ASX Top 50 clients, helping these clients to manage their internal pipeline.

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