When did you last change your mind about something? Maybe this morning, when you
decided to wear a different shirt. Maybe yesterday, when someone convinced you that pineapple on pizza is yummy. We may not realize just how much we change our minds about simple and not-so-simple things.
I’ve been reflecting about perspectives that I found myself re-thinking recently, and one big theme is leadership. As a leader, who also works as a coach with other leaders, I try to understand what drives our behaviors. What practices help or hinder us from being our best as leaders? How can we continuously bring out the best in our people?
In this learning journey, I’ve come to change my mind about how I want to show up as a leader. Here are three things that have adjusted for me and the references that helped.
1. Leaders don’t show emotions.
I used to think that showing emotions as a leader, especially crying, is a sign of weakness. Now, I know that my emotions are an indication of something that is valuable to me. By sharing them with others, they learn more about what I value and even support my pursuit to be consistent with those values. Thanks to the work of Dr. Lisa Feldman-Barrett who wrote “How Emotions are Made,” I’ve been learning to create better awareness of my own and others’ emotions.
2. Leaders don’t bring personal concerns to work.
I used to subscribe to the notion that one should “check their personal lives at the door” when they come to work. You’re on “company time” so whenever your mind wanders to personal thoughts such as a sick child, you’re doing the company a disservice. Now, I understand that I come to my workplace as a whole person who has various facets of life. If my brain is not at its best because some facets are not going well, I won’t be at my best for the company anyway. I love the work of Dr. Sarah McKay, author of “In Her Head,” who shares a simple model of how one’s mindset, environment and physiological state all play a critical role in supporting a healthy brain. Integrating brain-healthy habits into my day no longer make me feel guilty for spending time on myself.
3. Leaders are direct and completely fact-based.
I used to believe that the best way of communicating is to be completely objective. Now I know that I also have to be held accountable for my impact on others. Thanks to the lessons I learn from my favorite podcast Huberman Lab, hosted by Stanford professor Dr. Andrew Huberman, I understand how the different chemicals in our brains are triggered and how they influence our behaviors.
By understanding how our minds work, I’ve learned to change my mind about what good leadership looks like. That is the value of neuroplasticity – the ability of the brain to form new connections. My encouragement to other leaders is to keep learning too. If the best athletes practice their sport even after many wins, then leaders should continue practicing their craft too. Learning about neuroscience also helps me to reinforce the belief that, while we might look and sound different from others, underneath we are all the same. If we get better at understanding why and how we think, feel and behave, we might get better at looking past our judgements and accept that we’re all human beings doing the best we can to thrive.
Jackie Sarmiento Cañiza, PCC
Certified Neurotransformational Coach
Jackie is the Founder and one of the Managing Partners of Haraya Coaching. She is a seasoned Leadership and Life Coach with several certifications in coaching, neuroscience, business, and leadership. She spent over sixteen (16) years in the corporate world as a Human Resources Practitioner and Business Development Executive before founding Haraya, which is now on its 11th year.