Leadership Realised

5 min read
8 March 2023

What I Knew to be True

It’s 2006, I hear David Rock speak at a conference and spend time with him to better understand the messages he was bringing to the world. I’m energised about bringing the brain and neuroscience into my work as an Organisational Development (OD) practitioner and coach. I read everything I could get my hands on. Fast forward, I stumble upon Silvia Damiano’s work as I look for continuing education to maintain professional coach certification through the ICF. 

I am moved, touched and inspired. Initially shocked about not knowing this work before I reacted, “finally, a leader who gets it.” Silvia Damiano took an insight she had on a plane, rigorously and lovingly built a body of work and produced it in such a way that it can impact millions of people; transforming our approach to developing leaders into ones that thrive in the world we live today, not yesterday. I clearly see how the i4 Neuroleader™ Model and Methodology do that. 

I sensed for years that something was missing from leadership and team models. Heck, I saw many traits and strengths I brought to the table as a female, like imagination and intuition, missing and undervalued by those same leadership models and training. The i4 Neuroleader™ Model fills this gap and addresses what I knew to be true, brilliantly and backed by science.

It’s the Culture, Stupid!

I remember when the word culture was not yet a part of the business or organisational lexicon. No one beyond OD practitioners or students of Edgar Schein’s body of work applied culture in any context beyond anthropology. Now we use the word culture in an everyday way and sometimes misuse it. The idea of creating a brain-friendly culture, by definition, brings the human element into an organisational context like never before. 

Yes, companies created “value systems” and “mission statements”, that spoke to the people element, but the reality is that they were quite disconnected from what was espoused. Now, companies speak to the organisation's health, but the tools and models we’ve used previously don’t even account for the whole human, much less her health and well-being. I can clearly see how the i4 Neuroleader™ Model and Methodology will play a role in the ‘What’ and the ‘How’ of creating cultures that are both brain and human-friendly. I love the world that this creates. 

Room for Growth

In 1999, I participated in life-changing coursework called the Landmark Curriculum for Living. In the second course, the advanced course, I invented myself as the possibility of Inspiration, love and relatedness. As I master the i4 Neuroleader™ Model, I grow closer to bringing these possibilities to life for others. When deeply reflecting on my i4 Neuroleader™ Assessment results, I got super clear. “Girl! get rid of the scripts you have in your head” (those old ones that linger), seeing yourself not as talented or capable as others see you. I saw good alignment in innovation and agility. However, I was off, WAY off, in my self-assessment for performance and collaboration. In the debrief session, I pledged to let that old thinking go. 

I will explore more about gut health, listening to and getting back to trusting my intuition. I am committed to better understanding how I can bring spontaneity into my life in all aspects and how that will impact intuition. 

I will practice one breathing exercise daily and inspire others to do so as well. Finally, I will practice asking what others want first and increase my awareness when I focus solely on expressing what I want. I want to bring these insights to the leaders in every organisation I coach or consult, whether they lead from an individual contributor level or the C suite. 

Though I’ve been certified in many tools and instruments over the course of my career, I had not been as well prepared or informed as the first time I conducted a debrief with my two practice clients. I fluidly spoke on how to interpret results, guided them in making sense of what they were seeing and maintained a calm demeanour to support their learning. 

I wasn’t worried that I had to be a neuroscience expert as the materials in the coursework are laid out so well, so logically and quite beautifully. I was confident I could help my clients make sense of their data and set up coaching down the road. As a right-brainer, I appreciated how the learning system was set up, was customisable (look/feel) and accessible. I know where to look for support and resources in the coaching work to come.

Hitting Home

Years ago, I was captivated by the documentaries “Happy” and “I Am,” and intrigued by the messages and research. Silvia Damiano’s brilliant documentary “Make Me a Leader” brought more neuroscience research to life. Brooke’s journey brought tears. I identified with her description of life on autopilot, living but not really consciously – like going through the motions. I’ve had periods like this in my life, nagging me, but of course, I ignored what my body and intuition were telling me. Brooke said, “and she would go back in and do the work, [really] do the work.” Thank you, Brooke, and Silvia, for this wake-up call. The invitation to be the best version of me I can be, so that I can bring the work to the world, helping it transform. 

Team, Team, Team

Effective teams matter more than ever. One key insight from the “Leadership is Upside Down” book is the i4 Neuroleader™ Group Report. What a powerful and different way to help teams “see” their strengths and areas to develop. As a team coach, I’ll have a fresh way of prompting meaningful conversations and accelerating what teams can accomplish with balanced brain/body systems.

It’s Personal…and Professional

Personally, I feel energised to do the work around balancing my brain and body system. I don’t feel it’s daunting or a “have to”. I see clearly how balance helps me bring my whole self to every aspect of my life. After practising breathing exercises, I’ve already seen memory improvement in just a few weeks. Professionally, I’m excited that this platform combines a 360 component and neuroscience. A true upgrade to what I’ve been using before. No longer will we relate to the leader as a performer bot in an organisation…we will see her and value her as a HUMAN BEING.

I had a vision several years ago concerning millennials. I’ve thought deeply about how we need to accelerate their learning, growth and development so they can be leaders from wherever they sit in organisations; and furthermore be ready to take on leadership positions in their organisations, communities etc. Let’s face it, the baby boomer generation is quite tied to legacy thinking about organisation structure, ways of working, and how people “should be” in an organisational context. One that very much disconnects the leader and the human being behind that leader. GenX (my generation) also has some limited beliefs, but we are not large enough to make the necessary sea change. Millennials and Gen Y, Z will soon be the majority in the world of work….. I now have a path to bring that vision to reality! 

It's Great to Be A Girl!

As women, we are blessed with being more in touch with our bodies. I discovered in this process that I had somewhat stopped listening. While my strong intuition told me to pay more attention to food and my gut, I ignored those messages. I am grateful that I’ve experienced this body of work in time before experiencing a health crisis, or having it be too late. I am optimistic about neuroplasticity. So often, as older adults, we’re told to expect a decline with age. Well, we don’t have to live with that, do we? I have had the good fortune of working with C-suite leaders, individual contributors and all in between. What I have not had thus far that the i4 Neuroleader™ Assessment experience provided me, is relatedness on a human level, deeper than any “instrument” “personality indicator” or other has given us to date. It’s personal. It’s practical. It’s HUMAN!

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