Unfortunately, no magic pill will erase all your problems and stressors. Negative emotions can profoundly impact a person’s ability to be an effective leader. Ask yourself—are you showing up more frequently as the best version of yourself? If the answer is no, then it’s time to recognise that the small things you change can lead to much bigger changes. It is time to understand the link between positive psychology, neuroscience, and leadership.

Treat Yourself As The Scientific Experiment

recently interviewed Sue Langley, of the Langley Group in Sydney for my upcoming 2018 documentary Make Me A Leader. We discussed how small changes can positivity impact a person’s life, both personally and professionally.

Nobody does anything perfectly the first time. When you were a toddler learning to walk, your parents didn’t give up on you because you fell down the first dozen (or more!) attempts. No, they realised that it sometimes takes time to see results. In the same way, you can become a better leader, but you might not see results instantly. Think of yourself as the experiment. Small changes might lead to subtle variations that will eventually unfold into a more positive, creative, innovative outlook.

Positive Psychology Can Change The Brain

Scientists are now connecting the fields of psychology and neuroscience, thanks in great part to increasing technology. When a person is experiencing positive emotions, more areas of the brain are activated.

Research into loving-kindness meditation (LKM) and compassion meditation (CM) has shown that there is an increase in activity in the amygdala, which processes emotions. It is hypothesised that LKM and CM may enhance activity in the parts of the brain that are involved with empathy and emotions. Even more promising, studies have shown that short training sessions can lead to improvements in how people perceive others and themselves (Hoffman, 2012).

“Whilst command and control may have worked once upon a time, it doesn’t work anymore.”

Sue Langley

You may ask yourself, so what does this positivity have to do with leadership? The short answer is—everything! I have seen firsthand what people can achieve when they embrace positivity and train their brains to work effectively. Back in the ‘old days’, employees were often afraid to be creative and innovative, and they were afraid to speak up for fear of losing their jobs.

But, those days are over. It is now the Imagination Age, and people are rightfully demanding that their voices be heard. We know that people will be more productive when they have higher levels of well-being.

Even if you have had results with the ‘command and control’ style, we know because of new evidence that there are better ways to lead. Wouldn’t you rather be a leader that gets results and leaves a legacy of well-being?

Self-awareness Is Critical For A Leader

Your actions impact the people around you, and being aware of this is how you can start to make changes. If you aren’t aware of your negativity, fear, or anxiety, you won’t be able to modify this behaviour. Remember, though, small changes can have a big impact. To build resilience and emotional management, practice daily. Treat yourself as the science experiment and don’t be afraid to embrace something new.

Hofmann, S. G., Grossman, P., & Hinton, D. E. (2011). Loving-Kindness and Compassion Meditation: Potential for Psychological Interventions. Clinical Psychology Review, 31(7), 1126–1132. http://doi.org/10.1016/j.cpr.2011.07.003

Originally posted on: 12 September 2017
Last updated on: 18 February 2024

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Silvia Damiano

Silvia Damiano

Founder & CEO
About my Brain Institute

Scientist, educator, author, speaker, coach, award-winning leadership specialist, filmmaker and creator of the i4 Neuroleader Model & Methodology.

Silvia's scientific background and curiosity about the human brain led her to a decade long journey of research into optimal brain functioning and the application of neuroscience in leadership and daily life. Her past and current roles have uniquely prepared her for the current undertaking, that of leadership activist & change agent.

Silvia Damiano founded The About my Brain Institute in 2009, with the purpose of democratising leadership & neuroscience. She has a passionately held belief, that leaders in our 21st century global economy and their organisations must radically change long-held ideas of what constitutes effective leadership

In her ground-breaking books ‘Leadership is Upside Down’, ‘Brain-Friendly Leadership’ and the 2018 documentary ‘Make Me A Leader’, Silvia provides both compelling evidence and explores the importance of leadership in our personal and professional lives and what it takes to develop the human behind the leader.

Silvia has worked in different countries, across many industries, helping teams and organisations improve business performance. Silvia’s clients have described her as a passionate, dynamic, a highly experienced speaker and master facilitator on the topics of Emotional Intelligence, Cultural Change, Neuroleadership & Engagement.

Silvia is passionate about leaving a legacy of well-rounded leaders who can act and decide in a way that better serves humanity. Her clients include Microsoft, Australian Stock Exchange, NSW Government, VISA, Fuji Xerox and Manpower amongst many other global companies.

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