Research shows our mindset contributes greatly to our ability to reduce the impact of our limbic system response. For leaders that mindset can keep our teams in the adaptive ‘sweet spot’ neither under nor overreacting to an evolving situation. This sweet spot is a belief in eventual success, combined with a deep acceptance of the harsh current reality.
" “It may feel self-evident to look after our own wellbeing but in times of disruption, the day-to-day things we know we should be doing often fall by the wayside.”
As leaders we need to keep this in mind and help create clarity in our teams to remind them of our shared goals and the journey to get there.
A few habits can make the biggest difference in managing threat levels – taking care of ourselves as leaders, looking after others and delivering on what matters.
Another key aspect is the ‘Knowing – Doing Gap’. It may feel self-evident to look after our own wellbeing but in times of disruption, the day-to-day things we know we should be doing often fall by the wayside. It’s important to intentionally create the space for yourself and your teams and look for opportunities to demonstrate what we know we should do.
What drives you?
Our brains are constantly scanning the environment for anything that might harm us. In fact there’s significantly more neural ‘real estate’ in the brain dedicated to detecting threat than rewards. It turns out feeling socially threatened or socially rewarded affects the brain in many of the same ways as physical threat or reward.
I conceptualise this by way of the SCARF model which comes from research into how the brain processes the five different types of social drivers that impact how individuals respond to threat and reward - status, certainty, autonomy, relatedness and fairness. Everyone has a different ‘balance’ of each of the SCARF domains, some are more attuned to detect unfairness while others respond strongly to uncertainty or threats to their relative status in a group.
When we experience too much threat our more automatic, primitive brain systems tend to drive our behaviour. Under conditions of high threat, we may experience a fight-or-flight response and it becomes challenging for our executive functions which are involved in high-level thought processes such as critical thinking and creativity, to work optimally.