Are you self-aware? Do you know how you’re feeling at any given time? Can you change your emotional state by choice?
If you answered ‘no’ to one or more of the above questions, read on.
We’d all love to think we’re highly self-aware, but these days many of us find ourselves on the ‘Covid Coaster’ with its peaks and valleys of excitement/anxiety and depression all too often.
Your Pal: The Right Hemisphere
The right hemisphere of your brain is home to emotion, intuition or your ‘Spidey Sense,’ your artistic endeavors, symbols, sensitivities, impulses and practical intelligence. It’s where we draw our emotional intelligence from, to whatever degree it is developed. The right side of the brain can manage complexity well. Parallel processing of information or tasks is not overly taxing to it. It experiences time as flowing, non-sequential. The right hemisphere is celebrated in the arts, love, creative expression, seeing things as a connected whole.
The left hemisphere is the realm of logic, analysis, language. Parallel processing of information or tasks is exhausting to it. This hemisphere experiences time as sequential, serial. It loves to solve problems, analyze options, assess risks, justify choices, and it can be a wee bit slow in making decisions, where the right hemisphere will more often ‘go with its gut instinct.’ The left hemisphere is celebrated in business, politics, science.
So what does this mean to leadership, which is most often excessively left hemisphere-oriented?
Right Hemisphere Is Prevalent In Younger People—Here’s How To Engage Them
Some say that the younger generations are more right hemisphere-oriented. I agree. And it’s in large part due to the internet and our tremendous access to information. This then enables us to draw connections between info and find relationships that left hemisphere-focused people may have missed.
This is where emotional intelligence comes in. As leaders, we all must adapt to ensure we’re engaging the generations that are more likely to have high right hemisphere foci. I’m noticing this in the zoom workshops I do with our clients: it’s essential that I continuously draw parallels between topics I’m discussing and intuitive, emotional, symbolic structures to boost learning and keep participants on the edge of their seats. In over 35 years in business, I’ve never heard so many people discussing emotion, relationships, sensitivity, emotional intelligence. We’re ready to swing to the right (no political pun intended!).
Look at the above chart. Which right hemisphere area(s) would you benefit from boosting most? Personal competence? Social competence? Which aspect of each/either?
Here are 3 ways to increase right hemisphere interaction.
1. Start Each Meeting With The Emotion Wheel. Then you’ll know how everyone is feeling and you won’t have to guess. If the majority are in the mad, sad, scared sectors, move to step 2.
2. Do A Group Feedback Frame. This will help your team to shift out of amygdala hijack and into seeing what’s working and what we need to create more of. It’s a very simple structure: you discuss what’s working (to activate the frontal lobes and create a receptive state), then what you’d like to see more of (to create enthusiasm around making the changes requested).
3. Do a Start, Stop, Continue so everyone can feel good knowing we have a plan. This makes the left-hemisphere people happy as now they see that momentum will occur! Be sure to list all deliverables, timelines, and owners for each. Note our client example below is a Start, Stop, Continue on optimizing the employee experience.
Don’t Dis the Right-Brain Bunch
Above, I said right-brainers are prevalent in the younger generations. So let’s loop in the left-brainers too, and ensure we don’t miss that your overall workforce may be more left-brain focused. Depending on the field you’re in, you may find right-brain thinkers are in the minority. When I was a software engineer in the early days of Microsoft I often felt alone in a room of left-brainers with my right-brain propensity. Some right-brains will ask a lot of questions—because they thirst for knowledge and info to draw relationships between. They can do abstract thinking well, yet will fade out if they’re not emotionally engaged or challenged. Be careful to appreciate them and seek to understand them. Using our listening tools will help a lot.
What hemisphere is most prevalent in your direct reports? How will you support their growth?